Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doping Probe About To Heat Up For Armstrong

Lance Armstrong conceded days ago that his chances for victory in this year's Tour de France are finished. But it appears an even more difficult battle could just be starting for America's greatest cyclist.

The New York Times reports it has learned that federal authorities have issued grand jury subpoenas in an investigation aimed at discovering whether Armstrong and others engaged in doping.

The investigation is being led by Jeff Novitzky, the top federal agent in the BALCO probe that netted several prominent dopers in sports. The current probe was instigated by allegations from admitted cycling doper Floyd Landis, who contends Armstrong and other members of the now-defunct U.S. Postal Service team used banned drugs.

What makes this case particularly dicey for any suspects is the potential charge of using government funding to cheat. The Times says several riders competing at the Tour have been contacted by investigators. Armstrong, who has denied ever doping, said today he will cooperate with a "fair investigation" but not a "witch hunt."

Armstrong also stressed today he has never had a business interest in Tailwind Sports, despite numerous reports he was the owner of the company that helped finance the U.S. Postal Service team. That could be an important distinction, if there are allegations that federal funding was diverted for drug use.

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