Reports: case dropped in Lance Armstrong/USPS doping investigation
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Friday, February 3, 2012

Reports: case dropped in Lance Armstrong/USPS doping investigation

by Shane Stokes at 5:24 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
USADA pledges to continue enquiry into team

Lance ArmstrongThe long-running investigation into the United States Postal Service team and Lance Armstrong appears to be at an end, at least in terms of the anti-doping aspect, with AP reporting that federal investigators have closed the case.

The investigation has been running for almost two years, having started with a separate investigation of the Rock Racing team and spreading to the US Postal Service squad. Armstrong’s former team-mate Floyd Landis said in 2010 that he, Armstrong and most of the Tour squads used banned substances; this claim was echoed last May by another former US Postal Service rider Tyler Hamilton.

The United States Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. issued a statement about the decision. Precise reasons were not given for the case being dropped.

“United States Attorney André Birotte Jr. today announced that his office is closing an investigation into allegations of federal criminal conduct by members and associates of a professional bicycle racing team owned in part by Lance Armstrong,” he said in a statement.

“The United States Attorney determined that a public announcement concerning the closing of the investigation was warranted by numerous reports about the investigation in media outlets around the world.

“Mr. Birotte commended the joint investigative efforts of his prosecutors and special agents with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Postal Service - Office of the Inspector General.”

Armstrong’s attorney Mark Fabiani welcomed the decision. “This is great news,” he said. “Lance is pleased that the United States Attorney made the right decision, and he is more determined than ever to devote his time and energy to Livestrong and to the causes that have defined his career.”

However US Anti Doping Agency CEO Travis T. Tygart has said that the matter isn’t over. “Unlike the U.S. Attorney, USADA’s job is to protect clean sport rather than enforce specific criminal laws,” he indicated in a statement. “Our investigation into doping in the sport of cycling is continuing and we look forward to obtaining the information developed during the federal investigation.”

Statute of limitations overruled this week in another case:

In relation to USADA’s vow to dig deeper, the question will naturally be raised as to how far back it will be able to delve and to penalise if it does feel that rules were broken.

Although a statute of limitations of eight years normally applies under the WADA Code, USADA issued a ruling yesterday in relation to the track and field athlete Eddy Hellebuyck which extended further back than this.

He tested positive for EPO in 2004 and served a two year suspension. However information received recently plus his own statements led USADA to conclude that his doping extended back to 2001.

He argued that the statue of limitations prevented further penalty, but the American Arbitration Association (AAA) panel concluded that his previous denials meant this was not the case.

“We are pleased the Panel has upheld the fundamental principle of fairness for clean athletes,” stated Tygart yesterday. “This decision sends a clear message that you can’t use performance enhancing drugs to cheat, conceal your violations, and when the truth is revealed, attempt to hide behind the statute of limitations.”

That ruling may prove relevant in USADA’s ability to fully investigate the USPS team. As for federal agents, though, it appears their delving has come to an end. The various factors in this decision will presumably emerge in time.

More to follow on this breaking story….


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