Lance Armstrong Investigation: Prosecutors respond to claims of illegal leaks
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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lance Armstrong Investigation: Prosecutors respond to claims of illegal leaks

by Shane Stokes at 6:45 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
No disclosure as to nature of their reply

Lance ArmstrongResponding to complaints lodged in July by Lance Armstrong’s attorneys, prosecutors investigating doping allegations against the rider and his former US Postal Service team have responded to claims of leaks.

According to AP, the U.S. Attorney's Office spokesman Thom Mrozek stated yesterday that it had filed its reply under seal, the non-disclosure of the response being done in order to avoid violating the secrecy of grand jury proceedings. It had been requested by a judge to lodge its response by yesterday.

The complaint was lodged to the US district court in Los Angeles just over a month ago by Armstrong’s lawyers, who listed more than a dozen articles in media outlets over a fourteen month period as being proof of what they claimed were leaks from the investigators.

They said that a judge should order the government to explain why it should not be held in contempt, and said that one option would be to demand journalists reveal their sources. They claimed that the alleged leaks showed that there was “an underlying partisanship inherent in government agents,” and accused the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated and CBS's "60 Minutes" of reporting illegally leaked information.

However the government’s investigators are not the only possible source for the information; while it is not permitted for federal agents to speak with the media, those who have themselves given evidence are permitted to confirm their submissions if they so wish.

Former US Postal Service riders Floyd Landis, Frankie Andreu and Tyler Hamilton are amongst those who claimed that they had first-hand knowledge of both doping on the team and by Armstrong himself. Investigators have been building the case for over a year and have travelled overseas to work alongside anti-doping officials and police agents from a number of different countries.

In June 2010 the World Anti-Doping Agency's director general David Howman said that he believed the investigation would yield results, but warned it would take time. “I think we are very optimistic that this inquiry will be a fruitful one,” he told the New York Times. “But this is going to take some time because we’re not really talking about a simple antidoping case here. Remember the BALCO case, how long that took? Well, we could be still talking about this one in 2016.”

Since then more agencies have become involved, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation , the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General, plus both the civil and criminal divisions of the Department of Justice.

Taking time to build a case:

In addition calling witnesses to give evidence, investigators have also been working with others with access to what may be relevant information. In February it was confirmed by AFLD president Bruno Genevois that the agency was starting the process of handing over Lance Armstrong’s 1999 Tour de France samples, which l’Equipe reported in 2005 had shown traces of EPO.

Two months later, Italian law enforcement officials investigating the activities of the controversial doctor Michelle Ferrari said that Armstrong had repeatedly visited the Italian, despite formally severing ties with him in 2004. He said that the Texan met Ferrari ‘frequently,’ most often in St. Moritz in Switzerland, but also in Monaco.

Seven years ago, Ferrari was convicted of sporting fraud and abusing his medical license to write prescriptions. His medical licence was suspended for a year and he was fined €900, but he was able to overturn this ruling on appeal as the statute of limitations had expired on evidence presented in the original case. He is banned for life by the Italian Cycling Federation.

Armstrong’s spokesman Mark Fabiani confirmed that the rider and the doctor had met, but claimed that they were personal visits only.

There has been little news about the investigation of late, but also no indications that it has run into difficulties.

Armstrong continues to deny ever taking banned substances, and has said that the former team-mates who made claims against him are not telling the truth.

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