Armstrong case: Investigators meet with Italians
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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Armstrong case: Investigators meet with Italians

by Samuel Morrison at 4:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
US investigators meet with Italians regarding evidence seized in Popovych raid

Cyclist Yaroslav Popovych has become one of the central figures in the Lance Armstrong doping investigation. US investigators met with the Italian police yesterday in Lyon, France, to review information and property it seized in a raid of Popovych's home Thursday.

Police agents seized a computer and mobile telephones from Popovych's home in Tuscany. The raid is part of an investigation in Padova and also key to an investigation centred on Popovych's American team-mate, Armstrong.

The Ukrainian cyclist has lived in Italy for much of his professional career, which includes racing with Armstrong's Discovery Channel team in 2005, Astana last year and with team RadioShack this year. US federal investigators subpoenaed Popovych on October 22 when he was in Austin, Texas, for Armstrong's Livestrong Challenge Austin ride. He testified the following week in front of a grand jury in Los Angeles.

The US investigation gained momentum in April after Armstrong's former team-mate Floyd Landis sent a detailed e-mail explaining the alleged doping practices of Armstrong. Armstrong won seven Tour de France titles, three with the help of Floyd Landis.

Federal investigator Jeff Novitzky heads the case. He, prosecutor Doug Miller and US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart met with French anti-doping agency (AFLD) representatives yesterday at international police headquarters, Interpol in Lyon. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, they also met with Italian investigators from Padova, Brescia and Florence, and representatives from Spain's Guardia Civil.

Investigators from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) led the investigation into Spaniard Alejandro Valverde in 2009. Valverde was banned from racing in Italy for two years, which led to an eventual global ban.

Besides meeting with the Italians, Novitzky reportedly asked to review evidence from the French. Last year, the AFLD investigated the discovery of infusion equipment and syringes that were reportedly found in the trash bins of Armstrong's team Astana during the Tour de France. In 2005, French newspaper L'Equipe reported that Armstrong's urine samples from the 1999 Tour de France stored at the French Châtenay-Malabry laboratory indicated EPO use.

"A few days ago, the US federal government officially asked the French judicial authorities to co-operate in the investigation," a source close to the case told the Guardian.

In the USA, Novitzky has heard from Armstrong's former team-mate Tyler Hamilton and three-time Tour de France winner, American Greg LeMond. His team has also requested documents from Armstrong's long-time sponsors, Nike and Trek.

Armstrong repeatedly said he has never used performance-enhancing drugs or participated in blood doping.

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