Cycling Probe Can't Avoid Biggest Name

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08/10/2010| 0 comments
by AP, with additional commentary by Roadcycling.com
Lance Armstrong. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.
Lance Armstrong. Photo copyright Fotoreporter Sirotti.

Cycling Probe Can't Avoid Biggest Name

Agents are engaged in a wide-ranging probe of pro cycling, people with knowledge of their work, and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong clearly appears to be, at the very least, a person of interest.

said 70,000 pages of records were sent to investigators in recent weeks. The case, filed in a federal court in Minnesota, also involved others who have accused Armstrong of doping, including former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy.

The case also revealed that LeMond taped some people and included frequent backbiting. Trek President John Burke, in a deposition, said LeMond had an "absolute consumption" with Armstrong.

Prosecutors have also sought records from a dispute between Armstrong and Dallas-based SCA Promotions Inc. The company accused Armstrong of doping and refused to pay him a bonus, but the allegations were never proven. The cyclist won the case in arbitration and was awarded $7.5 million plus attorneys' fees.

Armstrong's attorneys say they have not received a subpoena, nor has his charity, Livestrong, which funds cancer research and outreach. Its finances are public records.

The fate of charges against Armstrong and any others ultimately will rest with the grand jury. The panel operates in secret - it is made up of between 16 and 23 eligible citizens whose identities are not publicly disclosed. Federal grand juries, especially those that hear detailed investigations, meet regularly over several months.

Kettel, the former federal prosecutor, said the involvement of the grand jury is a key piece of strategy for investigations.

"Oftentimes, the main reason for using the grand jury is just to lock people in," he said. "If a person's story changes later, their sworn statements before the grand jury can be used against them." He said perjury charges are unlikely in that case because they're hard to prove, but that prosecutors can still charge the person with lying to a federal official.

He said the grand jury can also be used to get potentially favorable defense witnesses on the record. Their story often changes and their grand jury testimony can be used against them at trial, Kettel said.

Once the grand jury has heard all the testimony, it will decide whether to deliver indictments.

Those familiar with the case say the decision could come as late as next year.

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