Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Lance Armstrong Investigation: Evidence in Europe

Jeff Novitzky's investigation of Lance Armstrong and doping in cycling has apparently moved to Europe to gather evidence. The NY Times and other news outlets are reporting that investigators are in France to collect evidence from the anti doping officials there. One interesting question will be whether a civil or criminal suit will allow evidence such as Armstrong's 1999 urine samples that were tested for EPO in 2005 to be admitted as evidence against Armstrong. While the samples were disregarded for purposes of sanctioning him because of a technicality in anti-doping rules, experts in anti-doping have said that this evidence shows there is no doubt that Armstrong doped (see this post for more information). If Novitzky proceeds first with a civil suit on behalf of the U.S. Government, then this 1999 evidence could help tip the scales such that a jury will conclude that a preponderance of evidence exists against Armstrong.

Another interesting question is whether Novitzky's investigation is gathering any samples from the European labs to have analyzed again. Today there are new tests that weren't available during the time period when Lance was racing for U.S. Postal so if Novitzky's team can get some of the specimens that Lance left behind and test them using new technology, it's possible that we could see evidence of blood doping, EPO or other doping agents that scientists can now detect.

Also, it will be interesting to see if the raid this week on Lance's former teammate, Yaroslav Popovych's Italian home, leads to evidence against Lance. ESPN reported that the police confiscated computers, phones and substances from Popo's home. If Popovych was purchasing drugs for the team or kept other records that could lead to doping, the investigators will probably find them and this could open up new sources of information to use against Lance. Right now we don't even know if the Popovych raid was associated with Novitzky's investigation but my guess is that it has something to do with it...

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