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Armstrong adds new muscle to his legal team

SAN FRANCISCO, May 26, 2011 (AFP) – Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has hired two lawyers who won a legal victory in a baseball drug case over Jeff Novitzky, lead investigator in a federal probe of Armstrong.

John Keker and Elliott Peters, based in San Francisco, had represented Major League Baseball’s players union in an appeals court victory that said federal agents had no right to take 2003 drug test results in a raid.

That legal victory in a case related to the BALCO steroid scandal led to test results from a pilot program being inadmissable against U.S. home run king Barry Bonds in a recent trial where he was convicted of obstructing an investigation into his own use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Novitzky, chief investigating agent in the BALCO case, is also the lead investigator in the case against Armstrong, who has denied any wrongdoing and ever taking performance-enhancing substances in his fabled career.

Several former teammates on Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service squad have said they were part of a systemic doping program that included Armstrong during his first Tour de France victory in 1999 and beyond.

Most recently, Tyler Hamilton spoke out last weekend on the CBS television show “60 Minutes” about his own use of banned substances and said he saw Armstrong take them as well.

Floyd Landis, stripped of the 2006 Tour title after testing positive for testosterone, had earlier claimed Armstrong was a dope cheat as well.

CBS also reported that George Hincapie, a friend and former teammate of Armstrong, told federal authorities he and Armstrong had given each other performance-enhancing drugs.

Keker criticized leaks of grand jury testimony meant to be kept confidential and dismissed the probe of the retired rider as a waste of time and money.

“We know Novitzky and plan to prove that these are his repeated, illegal leaks aimed solely at destroying a true hero, not just in sports but in the fight against cancer,” he said. “That the government is spending tax money investigating long ago bike races in Europe is an outrage.”

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