Armstrong tried to silence Landis' doping allegations?
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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Armstrong tried to silence Landis' doping allegations?

by Samuel Morrison at 8:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Correspondence between two American cyclists likely examined as part of federal investigation

Lance Armstrong could have tried to silence Floyd Landis prior his doping allegations this spring. That’s a claim that is likely to be investigated by US federal prosecutors, according the New York Daily News. In fact, both US federal prosecutors and Armstrong's attorneys may focus on the correspondence between the two former US Postal team-mates.

The chief investigator of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Jeff Novitzky, is examining Landis' allegations of organised doping in Armstrong's US Postal team. As part of that, he may also examine Landis' and Armstrong's correspondence during the weeks leading up to Landis' e-mail being leaked to the media on May 19.

The e-mail leaked was Landis' April 30 e-mail to Steve Johnson, the CEO of USA Cycling. Landis' allegations in the e-mail outlined team US Postal's doping practices, which included blood transfusions and testosterone patches. Armstrong, according to the Daily News, likely knew about the e-mail shortly after Landis sent it and responded "with an outraged call" to Landis' close friend, Doctor Brent Kay.

Kay performed Landis hip replacement in 2007 and was the main sponsor of Landis' OUCH Racing Team.

Landis believed that Armstrong and his lawyers knew about his conversations with USA Cycling. Prior to his April 30 e-mail to Steve Johnson, Landis asked to speak with Johnson and instead spoke with USA Cycling's lawyer Steven Hess.

Hess responded to Landis claims that he told Johnson of doping in 2007. He wrote a summary of their conversation after the telephone call on April 14:

"It was your perception that Mr. Johnson tried to dissuade you from reporting your information to USADA [United States Anti-Doping Agency - ed.] by telling you that even if you shared this information with USADA, nobody would believe your allegations. It was your perception, having had these discussions, that USAC [USA Cycling - ed.] would not undertake any internal investigation or review."

Landis had suspicions that Armstrong knew of the conversation and that he contacted his team-mate Rahsaan Bahati, according to the New York Daily News. Landis leaked the e-mail to the media two weeks later to anticipate any action by Armstrong or, as Armstrong's lawyer may argue, because his bribes went unanswered.  The investigation originally began by looking into the Rock Racing team of Michael Ball, but took a shift towards Armstrong following Landis' claims.

Mark Fabiani, who Armstrong hired this month to handle his media dealings, rejected suggestions that pressure was put on Landis. "The idea that Lance's team wanted to speak with Landis is simply the latest of Landis' Floyd-brications," Fabiani told the Daily News.

"Floyd Landis has disgraced himself with his admitted lies, and it is incredible that FDA agents are wasting taxpayer dollars in a fruitless attempt to bolster Landis' falsehoods."

Armstrong's RadioShack team posted alleged e-mails from Landis on its website on May 21 and wrote, "What was not conveyed were descriptions of the threatening text messages from Landis to others." According to the e-mails, Landis wrote the Tour of California organiser Andrew Messick asking for an invitation to race and invited Armstrong to a meeting with the USADA.

"I thought this might also be a good time for you, Mr. Armstrong," Landis wrote, "to clarify your position on my alleged 'alcoholism and psychological disorders.'" The former US Postal Service and Team RadioShack rider had claimed that Armstrong had cast aspersions on his character to others.

Team RadioShack has since removed the e-mails from its website, but the e-mails and other correspondence will be of interest to Novitzky as the investigating of Armstrong's team intensifies.

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