Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lance Armstrong Investigation Appears to be Much Wider than I Imagined

An unnamed source who is said to have collaborated with the FDA in the past has told CyclingNews that Jeffrey Novitzky's investigation is probably not focused on individual dopers but, rather, on the suppliers of doping products to athletes. The source said that Novitzky's trip to Europe is an indication that the investigation is much bigger than just investigating Lance's doping and that Novitzky would not have travelled to Europe unless there was some compelling evidence that they are collecting.

This theory sounds very plausible to me. Remember, the investigation began with Rock Racing and looking into their use of, and presumably their supply of, doping products. Soon thereafter came Floyd Landis making allegations about systematic and widespread doping on Lance's team and in the peloton in general. Interestingly, the source speculates that the investigation may also be looking at the supply of not only approved drugs but experimental drugs. I've often wondered if the top athletes, such as Lance, may be able to obtain experimental drugs that are not even on the banned list or being tested for by WADA or other anti-doping agents. Here are some major quotes from CyclingNews:
The source, who did not want to be named but who has worked alongside the FDA for the last 30 years in areas of counterfeiting and diversion of drugs, believes that the agency would not have come to Europe without hard evidence of a supply of drugs that are either not approved or are still under clinical trial.

"I found it really interesting that they (FDA) got involved at all," the source told Cyclingnews. "To me it means there's something deeper there than an athlete or athletes using drugs because that's not their mandate. They have no authority or interest in drug use by an athlete. They're not going to get this far down the road unless they have hard evidence on something.

"Their mandate is to approve trials for new drugs, monitor administration and the distribution of new drugs. They look at the import and export of drugs from the US."

"It could be a case of distribution of a drug before it's approved. It could be clinical trial drugs that are being used without approval, distribution of drugs by someone without a license - but being the receiver of drugs they wouldn't be interested in." ...

"The use of drugs on a team is not of interest to the FDA. However, if someone was supplying a team with a non-approved drug or an experimental drug, well that would be something they'd be interested in. If a company had produced an untraceable new steroid like in the Balco case, they'd be interested.

"If an individual athlete was involved in the investigation it would have to be because that individual athlete was involved in distributing drugs or something that's not approved."

As evident from the BALCO case, individual athletes can still wind up being punished if they are called to testify as part of the investigation and are found guilty of perjury, as several athletes such as Marion Jones and cyclist Tammy Thomas were. ...

The mere fact that the investigation has reached European shores, has surprised our source.

"It's unprecedented, really. It's interesting who they are meeting. They're not meeting with the European evaluation agency for example, they're meeting with the sporting drug control groups. It's unusual. They're not meeting with their traditional counterparts. Again that suggests more to do with distribution of drugs."

As for next steps, the source believes that the FDA will follow the chain in order to reach the start of any drug trafficking.

"If the FDA were to operate by their normal efforts they would follow up to where the products came from. Where did these drugs come from? That would be most in line with their mandate. ...

Armstrong ... "brings publicity to the case but the FDA will be most interested in an organisation that's behind all of this, if there is one. Like a Balco was," the source said.

"Unless an athlete is more involved in distributing or exporting drugs for further distribution I don't think that they would be facing prosecution from the FDA."
Interestingly, in today's news, VeloNation is reporting that the French authorities carried out a raid and arrested several individuals who were involved in a drug trafficking ring for doping products. Here is the heart of the story:

According to l’Equipe, the raid in north-west France occurred at dawn and was carried out by OCLAESP in relation to a trafficking ring for doping products. Those targeted included the suppliers, the users and doctors involved, and may extend into other sports beyond cycling. 
Given that Novitzky was just over there talking to the French authorities, I think it's very likely that this raid is related to some of the information that Novitzky has been collecting. In the end, this investigation could be much larger than I ever imagined...

No comments:

Post a Comment