Armstrong hires Clinton media expert Fabiani, Hincapie appoints legal team
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Friday, August 20, 2010

Armstrong hires Clinton media expert Fabiani, Hincapie appoints legal team

by Conal Andrews at 7:00 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Tour winner seeking to limit damages to public image

Lance ArmstrongAs investigations into the doping claims made by Floyd Landis continue to gain pace, Team RadioShack’s Lance Armstrong has hired the same special counsel and media expert that represented then-US President Bill Clinton during the Whitewater investigation.

Mark Fabiani, who is based in La Jolla, California, worked recently with Goldman Sachs executives on a federal fraud case. He will help the Texan defend himself against an investigation headed by Jeff Novitzky and Los Angeles-based federal prosecutor Doug Miller, who were prominent in uncovering evidence of doping in the BALCO case.

The most high-profile name associated with that investigation was Marion Jones, the multiple Olympic gold medallist, who ultimately spent six months in prison for lying under oath.

News of Fabiani’s appointment was announced by the Wall Street Journal and by ESPN, with the latter quoting him as saying via email that he wanted to stop the drip of information that has been making it into the public domain. “We're prepared to deal forthrightly with the improper and misleading leaks that so far have unfortunately characterized this unfair, Floyd Landis-inspired inquiry.”

A likely tactic is also to continue criticisms made by Armstrong’s representatives that the enquiry is a waste of taxpayer’s money.

“With salmonella causing the recall of 380 million eggs, I’m probably not the only one wondering right now why the FDA is spending its resources looking into international bicycle races that occurred years ago,” Fabiani said in an e-mail to Bloomberg.

When the claims of widespread doping on the US Postal Service squad were first made, Landis alleged that Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel helped himself and others to take banned substances. Landis tested positive for testosterone when he won the 2006 Tour de France with Phonak, ultimately serving a two-year ban and being stripped of his title.

Armstrong denied the charges and said that Landis had a credibility problem after previously lying about his own doping use. However investigators have been seeking statements from other former US Postal Service riders and employees, and several un-named riders have been reported as having already been in talks with Novitzky. At least one individual is thought to have backed up Landis’ claims.

Armstrong has likely earned over $100 million during his career, which saw him win the Tour de France seven times and become a key athlete in the advertising campaigns of companies such as Nike. Investigators are thought to be considering fraud charges, rather than simply focussing on the breaking of sporting rules.

Hincapie was also named as having used banned substances and is reported by the Wall Street Journal has having appointed the law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York to represent him. His attorneys declined to comment on the case.

ESPN describes Fabiani as, “a former White House special counsel who specializes in helping steer embattled politicians, companies and organizations through legal and public relations crises.” Apart from working with Clinton, he was Al Gore’s deputy campaign manager for communications and strategy during the 2000 US Presidential elections, and also defended Michael Moore’s ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ against political criticism.

He was nicknamed “Master of Disaster” for the way he handled crises during the Clinton administration. Fabiani will be trying to prevent further harm to Armstrong’s public image, which has taken a battering since Landis’ accusations broke during the Tour of California.

He began working with the rider on an informal basis in early July and will be the contact person for media enquiries from this point on.

Former USPS rider Tyler Hamilton has been called to testify, while Armstrong’s long-time bike supplier and business partner Trek has been subpoenaed. Triple Tour de France champion Greg LeMond was also served with a subpoena to provide information, and said that he delivered 70,000 pages to the investigators at the end of July.

According to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), it is encouraged by progress in the investigation, but warns that it could take months or even years for an outcome to be reached. However Novitzky and others are likely to push hard to keep things on track, particularly as the statute of limitations could limit some charges.


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