U.S. authorities are in the early stages of considering whether to investigate Lance Armstrong and other cyclists for fraud and conspiracy tied to doping, the New York Times reported.
The inquiry is into whether Armstrong, his teammates and the owners of his former cycling teams conspired to defraud sponsors by using performance-enhancing drugs to gain more money and prizes, the newspaper said, citing an unnamed person familiar with the investigation. Authorities also want to know whether money from the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored Armstrong’s team from 1996 to 2004, was used to buy performance- enhancing drugs.
Armstrong could face particular scrutiny because he had an ownership stake in Tailwind Sports, the company that owned several of his past cycling teams, the Times said. Jeff Novitzky, a federal agent now with the Food and Drug Administration who has led several doping investigations, is playing a direct role in this inquiry, the newspaper said.
Should the investigation proceed, Armstrong looks forward to being “totally vindicated,” his Team RadioShack said in a statement posted on his website.
“We understand that responsible anti-doping organizations and governmental agencies have an obligation to investigate allegations of wrongdoing, even when those allegations are baseless, incredible and made by people with improper motives,” the statement said. “At the same time, much of what has been reported in the press is false, sensational and unprofessional.”
A telephone message left for FDA spokeswoman Meghan Scott wasn’t immediately returned, nor was a message left for U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne.