The AP reports that Lance Armstrong is a “person of interest” in the federal doping investigation that’s slowly but surely heading toward a Federal Grand Jury Hearing.
Where it goes after the initial hearing is anyone’s guess, but Armstrong’s former teammates George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton have been contacted, as have his primary sponsors Trek Bicycles and Nike, both of whom are said to be cooperating.
The lead investigator is none other than Jeff Novitzky, who is credited with uncovering baseball’s steroid era via the BALCO investigation and sending Marion Jones to prison and landed perjury charges against Barry Bonds.
The case started with an investigation into doping supplies found in a vacant apartment used by Kayle Leogrande of Rock Racing. From there, it blew up on the public scene when Floyd Landis’ emails were leaked to the press and contained accusations against Armstrong and many other top names on the former Postal squad. (for the string of Landis news about this, simply search “Landis” on our website)
The case will proceed slowly. In order to bring in someone with Armstrong’s personality, credibility (no failed drug tests) and wealth, not to mention his pride, all the ducks must be in a row. Hurting the case is that subpoenas are in the hands of known detractors Landis and Greg Lemond, and Landis’ history of denial then coming clean likely won’t play well in front of a jury.
According to one of our buddies over at Outside Magazine, because of some riders’ involvement with the quasi-governmental Post Office, any perjury or transport, sale or use of illegal drugs while receiving money from Postal could mean really big trouble if it violates RICO laws.
Time will tell, and the case could take until next year before it’s even heard in front of the Grand Jury, and that process could take months. Armstrong’s lawyer, Tim Herman, says many of Landis’ claims are beyond the government’s jurisdiction to investigate and involve alleged acts that occurred more than five years ago and in other countries.
At any rate, it’ll be very interesting to see what statements come from so many professional cyclists, many with steller reputations, during the process.