The New York Times reports
that other cyclists are now backing Floyd Landis's doping allegations against
seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong. Landis first accused
his former teammate in May but, as a discredited rider himself, was
deemed by the public to be rather unconvincing.
Now a Los Angeles
grand jury is issuing subpoenas to other members of the former—and
legendary—U.S. Postal team, with Armstrong's lawyers saying
the government has been offering riders deals to testify against the
cycling giant. This is high drama, both for the sporting world and for
those accustomed to regarding Armstrong as a hero both on the
road and off. Prosecutors must move fast: the
Times points out that the "10-year statute of limitations on some of
the charges they are investigating is set to expire next spring."
- This Changes Things, remark USA Today's Reid Cherner and Tom Weir,
articulating the thoughts of many. "When Floyd Landis lobbed doping
allegations at Lance Armstrong it really wasn't much of a contest.
Armstrong used the goodwill he had earned with his performance on the
bike and his courage off of it, to portray Landis as having little
credibility." Having other teammates backing Landis's story, though, is
a whole different kettle of fish.
- What We Know, What We Don't, What We Can Expect ESPN's Lester Munson, writing July 29, pointed out that despite Armstrong's denials, the athlete did hire a criminal defense lawyer for the Los Angeles grand jury. Among other fascinating aspects of the investigation, Munson notes, is that it "does not appear to be aimed at those who used the blood transfusions and drugs, but instead at those who financed and facilitated the doping." We should expect to see, in the next few months and years, "negotiations for plea bargains and immunity," as well as "a subpoena for Armstrong to testify before the grand jury," coming towards the end of the investigation. Fascinating questions for observers to ponder: "Will he take the Fifth Amendment and refuse to testify? Will he testify and risk a perjury charge?" Also: if Lance and others are guilty, "how did the doping riders escape detection?" Is drug testing utterly useless?
- Showdown Between Armstrong and Novitzky Munson also takes some time to talk about the man heading the investigation, the "brilliant and relentless Jeff Novitzky of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Novitzky is the former IRS agent who led the BALCO investigation." This, predicts Munson, will be "a battle royale":
Armstrong is, of course, the fiercest of competitors. Whether or not he was clean, seven consecutive victories in the Tour is clear and convincing evidence that he is one the greatest competitors in the history of sports. But Novitzky, too, is resourceful and relentless. He went through the garbage and medical waste at BALCO for more than a year to gather the evidence he needed to pursue the lab and its customers.