Federal Prosectuors Begin Lance Armstrong Probe Into Possible PED Use

Lance Armstrong is once again on the defensive about whether he used performance-enhancing drugs -- except this time he's dealing with federal prosecutors. After Floyd Landis' accusations back in April of still-endemic doping in cycling, federal prosecutors launched a probe into cheating in the sport. And now, they have subpoenaed documents from a previous arbitration case against Armstrong that had tried to prove that the seven-time Tour de France winner had doped, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The arbitration case prosecutors have subpoenaed dates back to 2004, when SCA Promotions, Inc. refused to pay Armstong the $5 million bonus he was owed for winning the Tour de France due to published reports that he had cheated. While SCA did not have any eyewitnesses who said that Armstrong had doped, they did have testimony from two former teammates who indicated that Armstrong had told them that he either planned to or had previously used performance-enhancing drugs, primarily endurance-enhancing EPO. Armstrong denied these allegations and said he had "no idea" why two former teammates (and one of their wives) would claim otherwise. SCA eventually settled with Armstrong for $7.5 million, a figure that not only included the bonus figure, but also restitution for legal fees.

Prosecutors have also reportedly talked to a host of other riders (as well as their attorneys) about cooperating with the probe. Among those other riders was former Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton, who was himself caught for doping, and whose attorney confirmed was subpoenaed last Friday.

Armstrong has hired Los Angeles-based white-collar defense attorney Bryan Daly to represent himself against the federal investigation. While it's unlikely prosecutors would charge Armstrong with cheating or any other cycling-related infraction, they could conceivably charge him with either fraud -- for receiving endorsement/performance money for falsely won races -- or perjury.

The issue of Armstrong and performance-enhancing drugs has always been a fraught one, not only due to Armstrong's status as a living inspiration to cancer survivors and people battling the disease everywhere, but also because the French press were the first to push on the issue, which created something of a backlash in the American public and press. Still, even though his former teammates' credibility is suspect, it strains credulity that anyone could cruise to seven major titles in such dominating fashion in perhaps the dirtiest sport while staying clean themselves.

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