Lance Armstrong could face criminal investigation, Landis's credibility in question
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Friday, May 21, 2010

Lance Armstrong could face criminal investigation, Landis's credibility in question

by VeloNation Press at 11:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Landis must bring forward concrete evidence

Lance ArmstrongThe Wall Street Journal has reported that the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) may not be the only agency looking into the Floyd Landis accusations leveled at seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.  The newspaper reports that Landis has been cooperating with the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) criminal investigations unit, and has met with FDA special agent Jeff Novitzky, the lead investigator for the BALCO case that involved several professional athletes, including baseball players Jason Grimsley and Barry Bonds as well as Olympic track sprinter Marion Jones.

Armstrong's former teammate sent an email detailing alleged systematic doping practices on the United States Postal Service team, implicating Armstrong and his long-time manager Johan Bruyneel, along with several other active high profile cyclists including Levi Leipheimer, George Hincpaie and David Zabriskie.  He also accused the BMC Racing team management, which headed the Phonak team in 2006, of knowing about and condoning the doping activities that led to him being stripped of his Tour de France title.

The BMC Racing team said in a statement: "The BMC Racing Team is aware of the allegations leveled against some of its management team and one of its riders, U.S. national champion George Hincapie. These allegations are not true, absolutely unfounded and unproven. This is disappointing to anyone who works in the sport or is a fan of the sport."

Landis must first have tangable proof of his allegations in order for a criminal investigation that could threaten Armstrong's past results to materialize.  The heads of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have both reacted to the Landis accusations.

"He has to bring proof that this is true," IOC president Jacques Rogge told The Associated Press. "These are accusations that need to be corroborated by proof.

"You can't condemn without proof," he added. "He would be better off by giving evidence to corroborate that, otherwise he is risking a lot of libels. You can only sanction an athlete with tangible proof."

The president of the WADA, John Fahey, told the AP that if there is any substance to Landis's allegations, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency or the International Cycling Union (UCI) will be tasked to intervene.

"If he has evidence, he should make that evidence available to the USADA or UCI and I'm sure if there is any substance to that evidence, either of those bodies would act," he explained. "There will always be rumors about it."

Floyd LandisLandis's credibility has been under fire since the news of his email revelations broke.  Until now, he had categorically denied the use of performance enhancing drugs and penned a book entitled "Positively False: The Real Story of How I Won the Tour de France".  The book described the cycling world as "a place where athletes are subject to the antiquated science, flawed interpretive protocols, and draconian legal processes of the anti-doping agencies".

Armstrong fired back before the start of yesterday's Tour of California stage saying, "With regards to the specific allegations, the specific claims, they're not even worth getting into it. I'm not going to waste my time or your time.

"We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from. It's our word against his word," Armstrong said . "I like our word. We like our credibility."

Hincapie also commented on the matter in a statement yesterday that said, "I have been a professional on the circuit for 17 years – which is one of the longest careers in the peloton. During that time, I have earned the respect of my peers and a reputation for working hard, honestly and honorably. I'm really disappointed to hear these accusations."

There are mixed reactions from the American media despite Landis's tarnished image.  John Bentley from CBS news believes the case will endure, and Armstrong will be put under increased scrutiny.  "The question now is: can Landis prove anything he said? Yes, according to a doping expert," Bently said.  "The World Anti-Doping Agency said they would open an investigation into Landis's allegations, and new doping detection methods will be a part of that."

Bently spoke to the WADA, and they confirmed the eight-year window that they have under the rules to perform retroactive testing on an athlete's samples.  "We're getting better technology to detect prohibited substances that are abused," said Dr Gary Wadler of WADA to Bently.  "We'll be able to look backwards as far back as eight years to see if at the time of a given event when the specimen was collected if there were doping agents in the urine. Only Lance Armstrong knows if he has something to hide or not.  Athlete beware," he concluded.

UCI President Pat McQuaid also questioned Landis's credibility, telling New York Times yesterday, “I think Landis is in a very sad situation and I feel sorry for the guy because I don’t accept anything he says as true.

“This is a guy who has been condemned in court, who has stood up in court and stated that he never saw any doping in cycling. He’s written a book saying he won the Tour de France clean. Where does that leave his credibility? He has an agenda and is obviously out to seek revenge.”

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