Lance Armstrong Lawyer Says FBI Pursued Cyclist’s Complaint of Media Leaks

FBI agents and U.S. prosecutors asked lawyers for seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong about the cyclist’s complaint of alleged leaks about a grand jury probe of his team, one of his attorneys said.

Elliot Peters, an attorney in San Francisco at Keker & Van Nest LLP, said four members of Armstrong’s legal team, including himself and attorney John Keker, were interviewed in December by agents from Las Vegas about allegations that members of the “investigation’s inner circle” may have leaked information about the strategy of a grand jury investigation in Los Angeles and possible charges.

“The FBI came to speak with us, asking us about our complaints about leaks and what we knew about who had leaked,” Peters said yesterday in a phone interview. “They had already spoken to the investigative team.”

The complaints stemmed from media reports containing information that Peters says only investigators could have known.

The U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles announced Feb. 3 that a criminal investigation of Armstrong’s team was closing without charges being brought. Armstrong, a cancer survivor who rode for the U.S. Postal Service-sponsored professional cycling team, has denied using banned performance-enhancing drugs and and has passed almost 500 tests over 20 years of competition, one of his attorneys has said.

Las Vegas

Natalie Collins, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Las Vegas, said she couldn’t confirm or deny whether prosecutors had interviewed Armstrong’s attorneys about alleged leaks. An e-mail sent to the Las Vegas Federal Bureau of Investigation press office wasn’t immediately returned yesterday.

Tom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles, declined to comment.

Peters and Keker alleged that purported details of the grand jury investigation were deliberately leaked in violation of grand jury secrecy rules, according to a July filing in federal court in Los Angeles.

“The leaker(s) have made it abundantly clear that these leaks come from the investigation’s inner circle,” Keker said in the filing. The leaking was similar to what happened in a federal investigation of steroid use among Major League Baseball players, he said. Armstrong’s attorneys asked for a court order directing investigators to show why they shouldn’t be held in contempt for violating grand jury secrecy rules.

Prosecutors filed a response under seal in August, according to filings by Armstrong’s attorneys. Peters declined to comment on the status of Armstrong’s request, saying the case was under seal. The leaks stopped after last year’s request for a contempt of court finding, Peters said.

An attorney who represented the vice president of the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative, a California lab at the center of a federal steroids probe, pleaded guilty in 2007 to leaking baseball player Barry Bonds’s grand jury testimony to a newspaper reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and was sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison.

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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