Lance Armstrong contradicts testimony, says he will cooperate with Landis investigation
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lance Armstrong contradicts testimony, says he will cooperate with Landis investigation

by VeloNation Press at 2:36 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Seven-time Tour de France winner wants no part of "witch hunt"

Lance ArmstrongSeven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has confirmed that he is willing to cooperate with the Federal authorities who have launched an investigation involving him over possible fraud and doping charges, as long as it does not turn into a "witch hunt".

Yesterday the New York Times reported that grand jury subpoenas have been issued to witnesses in the case, which they said demonstrates the seriousness of the inquiry.  Armstrong confirmed he would cooperate, but also contradicted his testimony in the SCA Promotions insurance case from several years ago.

"Like I said, as long as we have a legitimate and credible and fair investigation I will be happy to co-operate but I'm not going to participate in any kind of witch hunt," he told USA Today before the start of the tenth stage.

"I've done too many good things for too many people," he said.

The investigation is looking into fraud and conspiracy charges as part of the inquiry, and for those charges to be applied to Armstrong it would need to prove that taxpayer money from the US Postal Service was used to purchase doping products and prove he was an owner of the team.  Armstrong denied that he an ownership stake in the team, which would in theory keep him clear of a stiffer sentence should Landis's allegations be proven.

"I was a rider on the team, I was contracted with Tailwind Sports, I never had any dealings...any...with the Postal Service...zero," he said.

"I didn't own the company. I didn't have an equity stake. I didn't have a profit stake. I didn't have a seat on the board. I can't be any clearer than that."

However, Armstrong's testimony from an earlier case completely contradicts his statements this morning.  The deposition from 2005 reads:

Q: Can you tell us what your relationship, first, your business relationship with Tailwind Sports, is?

A: I'm an athlete on the team.

Q: Do you have any ownership interest in Tailwind Sports?

A: A small one.

Q: When you say a small one, can you give me an approximate percentage as to what that would be, if you know?

A: Perhaps ten percent.

Q: Do you know when you acquired that ownership interest?

A: No. I don't remember.

Q: Would it have been in 2005, or before that?

A: I don't remember.

Q: Do you have any -- is there -- do you have any recollection as to when it would have been? '02? '03? '04?

A: Before today.

Q: Okay. Would it have been before 2001?

A: Probably not, but I'm not a hundred percent sure.

Q: Who would know the answer to that question as to when you acquired an ownership interest in Tailwind?

A: Bill Stapleton.

Q: Is there documentation? Like do you have papers or an ownership certificate of some sort that reflects your ownership interest in Tailwind?

A: I'm sure there is.

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The deposition was given as part of litigation between Armstrong and SCA Promotions, a Texas company which had withheld payment of a $5-million bonus due to the rider. Tailwind had purchased the insurance contract with SCA for $420,000 before the 2001 Tour de France, after Armstrong had already won the Tour twice consecutively. The $5-million payoff would happen if he won six Tours, a feat he achieved in July 2004.

The case was eventually settled out of court with SCA paying Armstrong and Tailwind Sports $7.5 million, to cover the $5-million bonus plus interest and lawyers' fees. It is understood that SCA lost as they hadn’t put a no-doping clause in the contract, thus making their line of defense invalid.

Floyd Landis"I don't think the government will build a case on Floyd Landis. His credibility left a long time ago," Armstrong continued before today’s stage.  Experts don't seem as concerned about Landis's credibility issues.  Criminal cases revolve around the testimony of several witnesses that, in many cases, have done much worse than taken performance enhancing drugs.  If others come forward to corroborate Landis's claims, they will hold much more weight.  Unconfirmed reports in the media say that two participants in this year's Tour de France have already spoken to investigators.

"Would the American people feel like this is a good use of their tax dollars?" he questioned. "That's for them to decide."

Armstrong argued that the doping allegations should be investigated by the International Cycling Union (UCI) or the World Anti-Doping Agency.

"If you think that you have an athlete that's broken the rules...this is not baseball, this is not football...we have a governing body to deal with that," he explained. 

"I have had five-hundred [doping] controls in my day," he continued.  "USADA deals with that, the UCI deals with that. WADA deals with that. We have an agency to deal with that. I have no problem playing by those rules."

With recent revelations where several cyclists have detailed how they avoided positive doping tests, the argument of negative doping controls may not be very compelling to the federal investigators should witnesses support Landis's claims.

"As long as I live I will deny that," he said about encouraging others to dope. "There is absolutely no way I forced people, encouraged people, told people, helped people, facilitated...absolutely not. 100 percent."

On the heels of New York Times reports that Federal authorities are issuing grand jury subpoenas to witnesses in the case, the New York Daily News has reported that there has also been a subpoena for documents to the Trek Bicycle Corporation, the bike manufacturer that sponsored the US Postal Service team.  Landis alleges that several bikes given to the team for the riders were auctioned on eBay to pay for doping products.
 

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