What does the federal government want from Lance Armstrong?
BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — What does the federal government want from Lance Armstrong now?
In a document that was recently unsealed by a District of Columbia court, the United States Department of Justice’s civil division tenor is both loud and clear: Lawyers wanted to know everything about the United States Postal Service’s cycling affairs, from how much Armstrong was paid down to his communications with trainer Michele Ferrari and drug makers capable of manufacturing performance-enhancing substances.
On December 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order denying Armstrong’s request to keep certain documents under permanent seal. Magistrate judge Deborah A. Robinson’s ruling freed documents into the public domain centering around another investigation into the now-stripped Tour champion, this one at the hands of the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General, or the OIG. The department is concerned with possible fraud due to doping. At the time of the 2011 subpoena asking for a trove of information from Armstrong, he was also the subject of a federal criminal investigation.
Armstrong initially fought a sweeping subpoena from the OIG, but the Department of Justice stepped in to enforce the subpoena. Armstrong eventually complied, but any information the former world champion supplied has not been released, and it’s not clear that it will be.
So, what does the government want to know? Everything.
Robert Chandler, an attorney with the Department of Justice’s civil division, made 21 requests of Armstrong in a filing dated October 10, 2011, ranging from financial disclosures to information regarding performance enhancing drug uses. Investigators are also hungry for communications and payments to banned trainer Ferrari, records between Armstrong’s Tailwind Sports company and the USPS, and a ledger of payments made from Armstrong to the World Anti-Doping Agency, the Union Cycliste Internationale, USA Cycling and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
The subpoena also asked Armstrong to disclose documents related to blood analysis and training, complete with scheduled PED use, and to “produce any and all communications preserved through audio or video recording on which any prohibited substance or method is discussed or the use of any prohibited substance or method by any person is discussed.”
Also requested were documents related to litigation between Armstrong and Mike Anderson, a former assistant and mechanic to Armstrong who says the Texan defaulted on a business deal. Anderson also claimed he saw and heard evidence that Armstrong used PEDs. He was labeled a “disgruntled former employee” by Mark Fabiani, an Armstrong representative.
VeloNews’ attempts to contact lawyers for both sides were not successful Wednesday and repeated Freedom of Information Act requests have been denied in recent months.
The USPS action is one of many facing Armstrong, who also saw his endorsement deals dry up as his titles were stripped, thanks to a USADA investigation that painted a grim picture of PED use throughout his reign as the world’s top Tour rider.
The current investigation is being conducted under the authority of the USPS Inspector General, and differs from the government’s criminal action against the Texan, which was dropped in early 2012. It is also separate from a whistleblower case filed by former teammate Floyd Landis, which is sometimes referenced in the newly released filings, though not by the government. Asked Wednesday by VeloNews for comment on any pending litigation against Armstrong, Landis declined comment.
Armstrong also faces a fight with SCA Promotions. The firm paid Armstrong $5 million in bonuses for a sixth consecutive Tour title in 2004, though he had to wrestle the money away from SCA in arbitration, as the firm believed Armstrong used PEDs to achieve the sterling results. All told, SCA paid $7.5 million to Armstrong — $5 million for the initial bonus, plus an additional $2.5 million in fees. The firm now wants its money back.
The flame of the Armstrong Affair burns on and the stakes appear to be rising.