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Armstrong adds serious heft to legal team

Increasingly concerned about news leaks and the apparent focus of a federal investigation involving doping, Lance Armstrong has added more muscle to his legal team, that of former White House special counsel Mark Fabiani.

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Increasingly concerned about news leaks and the apparent focus of a federal investigation involving doping, Lance Armstrong has added more muscle to his legal team, that of former White House special counsel Mark Fabiani.

News media reported in July that Armstrong had enlisted the services of former assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Daly of the Los Angeles law firm firm Sheppard Mullin Richter and Hampton in response to a federal investigation headed by the same investigators and prosecutors who ran the BALCO investigation. While news reports of Fabiani’s participation in Armstrong’s defense team emerged only this week, Fabiani told VeloNews that he’s been working with Armstrong since early July, even visiting the Tour de France at one point.

Armstrong is currently the apparent focus of a federal inquiry into doping in cycling, particularly during the years when his team was sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. The investigation is headed up by Food and Drug Administration Criminal Division investigator Jeff Novitzky, who was a key investigator in the federal case involving the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO).  Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Miller, who prosecuted many of the criminal cases that emerged from that investigation has also been assigned to the case.

Fabiani served as special counsel to the president from 1994 to 1996 and served as deputy campaign manager for communications and strategy for former vice president Al Gore during the 2000 election. He acted as campaign spokesman during the controversial Florida recount.

As president of his own law and PR firm, Fabiani has taken on difficult jobs throughout his career, including the Herculean task of trying to clean up image of the investment firm Goldman Sachs. Indeed, his involvement in some of the most controversial news stories of the past two decades has earned him the label “Master of Disaster,” which may be why Armstrong hired him.

The current federal investigation shifted its focus to Armstrong in April when Floyd Landis admitted to having doped throughout his career and alleged that he had learned methods to avoid detection from Armstrong when the two were teammates on U.S. Postal. Armstrong has repeatedly denied the allegations.

While Novitzky and Miller have declined to comment on the record, several former riders and their attorneys have confirmed that they have been contacted by federal authorities.

Fabiani said he was reluctant to comment on the case, but offered an observation he’s shared with others in the media, noting that Novitzky, a former IRS investigator, is now employed by the criminal division of the FDA.

“At a time when salmonella is forcing the recall of 380 million eggs, we’re all scratching our heads trying to figure out why the FDA is paying for a multi-million dollar fishing expedition, based on the word of the disgraced Floyd Landis, into international cycling events that occurred years ago,” he noted.