Federal prosecutor to boost investigation into Landis doping claims
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Federal prosecutor to boost investigation into Landis doping claims

by VeloNation Press at 5:59 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Doug Miller to work with Jeff Novitzky in USPS/Armstrong inquiry

Floyd LandisThe investigation into allegations made by Floyd Landis against his US Postal team-mates is continuing to gain pace, with an experienced federal prosecutor being appointed to the case.

Assistant US Attorney Doug Miller will now work alongside the Food and Drug Administration criminal investigator Jeff Novitzky who, like Miller, was involved in uncovering the BALCO affair.

According to the New York Daily News, Miller’s role will complement the digging currently being done by Novitzky, who has had several meetings with Landis and other potential witnesses. It is rumoured that Lance Armstrong’s ex-wife Kristin is one of those who is co-operating, but this has not been confirmed.

Landis’ allegations include claims that Armstrong and general manager Johan Bruyneel advised him on doping, that he saw the Texan and several other USPS team-mates receive banned blood transfusions, and that a bribe was paid to cover up a positive doping case from the 2001 Tour of Switzerland.

Armstrong and Bruyneel have denied the claims and sought to paint their accuser as being unstable. However, in what may be a worrying sign, the Garmin Transitions team has called on any of their current employees with knowledge of the situation to co-operate with the enquiry, and to tell the truth ‘whatever that truth is.’ Dave Zabriskie and Matt White, who previously both competed with the USPS team, were named by Landis as having been involved.

General manager Jonathan Vaughters was also a former USPS rider, although he was not named by Landis as the latter joined the team after Vaughters left. If these or others confirm the accusations, it would lend credibility to Landis’ claims.

Miller’s role as prosecutor would mean that he can help Novitzky to obtain search warrants and secure cooperation agreements. These would be used to build evidence that would later be used in court.

According to the newspaper report, in recent years Californian-based Miller has worked on cases relating to bank frauds and housing-industry conspiracies. He also helped convict Troy Ellerman of leaking confidential grand jury testimony relating to the BALCO case to the San Francisco Chronicle. Ellerman, an attorney who represented Balco founder Victor Conte, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and went on to serve just over half that.

If Landis’ claims are substantiated by others and found to be true, prison sentences could be one possible outcome of the USPS team investigation. That would most likely depend on Novitzky being able to show that fraud was committed. As the US Postal team was essentially funded by taxpayers’ money, any evidence that shows such funding was used inappropriately could have very serious consequences.

For now, Armstrong denies all charges against him and continues to build towards the Tour de France. “It’s just our word against theirs, and we like our word. We like where we stand,” said Armstrong at the Tour of California.

He is next due to compete in the Tour de Suisse, which begins on Saturday. Landis is preparing for a different kind of battle, having recently taken on the services of the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich and Rosati law firm. It recently represented Greg LeMond in his case against Trek, and helped the former Tour de France winner secure a settlement against the company.

LeMond has given his support to Landis and called for widespread reform in cycling. Some have faulted the triple Tour de France winner for his criticisms of Armstrong; depending on what Novitzky and Miller uncover, it could show whether or not LeMond, and Landis, are justified in what they have claimed.

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