Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Lance Armstrong Investigation: It's Not Over Yet...

Photo taken from (Gettty Images)

Just when you thought maybe the Lance Armstrong doping investigation was going to be over, USADA charged him yesterday with being involved in a massive doping conspiracy for over a decade. Now, I have to ask myself, if USADA doesn't have much of a case would they dare dig this up again and take on the amazing Mr. Armstrong again? I mean, doping charges against Lance have been about as effective as efforts to balance the US budget have been! Of course, no criminal charges in serious cases in the US have gone anywhere lately so Lance is joined by all sorts of high profile fraudsters in dodging criminal bullets. As to these charges, they aren't criminal but they could mean he loses his seven yellow jersey titles if they do stick. Here is a summary of the news, hot off the press:
First, the charges allege there was a conspiracy involving numerous parties including Johan Bruyneel, Michele Ferrari and others and that at least ten riders will testify that they either saw Armstrong dope or he admitted to them that he doped. Basically it sounds like the allegations are that cycling had a doping mafia and Lance and Johan were the ringleaders.

Here are a few bytes from the Washington Post which is cited to be the first to break the story:

Armstrong and five former cycling team associates — three doctors including Italian physician Michele Ferrari, one trainer and team manager Johan Bruyneel— engaged in a massive doping conspiracy from 1998 to 2011, and that “the witnesses to the conduct described in this letter include more than ten (10) cyclists . . .”
All of the six, including trainer Jose Pepi Marti of Switzerland and doctors Pedro Celaya of Luxembourg and Luis Garcia del Moral of Spain, face competition bans. USADA put all of the alleged violations in one letter, it stated, because it considers the six defendents part of a “long running doping conspiracy.”
The letter specifically alleges that “multiple riders with firsthand knowledge” will testify that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and masking agents, and that he distributed and administered drugs to other cyclists from 1998 to 2005. The letter alleges that numerous witnesses will testify that Armstrong also used human growth hormone before 1996.
Not surprisingly, Pepi Marti of Switzerland is currently Alberto Contador's coach, according to VeloNation. The reports say that USADA's letter is 15 pages long and accuses Lance of using about every doping product under the sun with some products going back to 1996.

What I'm really curious to know is what other cyclists testified that he doped? We know some including: Frankie Andreau, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton. What about Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie? I wonder if George's announced retirement this week had anything to do with the timing of these charges.

One other tidbit that I read is that USADA asked Lance to come talk to them a month ago or so and Lance refused. He said they wanted a confession and he wasn't going to give that. I'm pretty sure he will go to his deathbed denying these charges even if all of his closest associates say that they know he is guilty. Sadly, I won't be surprised if he is stripped of all seven yellow jerseys but I will be shocked if he ever admits that he cheated. As of now he is back making claims of total innocence. Interestingly, according to one source, one of Lance's comments was:
"These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation."
This raises an important question that I've had ever since the Justice Department dropped the investigation: 

Why exactly did the US Justice Department drop the charges? 

If it turns out that USADA has the same evidence and it is overwhelming evidence that fills 15 pages and includes ten or more witnesses then I can only think of a few plausible explanations for dropping the case. Unfortunately, the explanations aren't very flattering for those in charge of maintaining our nation's law and order...

1 comment:

  1. I was thinking about how strange it was for the DA to, suddenly and without explanation, drop the case earlier this year. Going up against the Armstrong juggernaut especially during an election year was going to be a lose-lose for everyone involved. At least that is where the Armstrong campaign seemed to be taking things with the "Why are you spending valuable federal resources trying to prosecute a bicyclist" meme.

    Well what better way to procede then to first discredit him, strip him of his titles and leave him open to public criticism...then indict him for fraud.