Lance Is In Serious Trouble

The New York Times via VeloNation:

Federal authorities investigating allegations that Lance Armstrong and other top cyclists engaged in doping are considering whether they can expand the investigation beyond traditional drug-distribution charges to include ones involving fraud and conspiracy, according to two people briefed on the investigation.

It might be easy to shake off doping charges, but fraud and conspiracy charges have a harsher stink.

And Landis might be a federal whistleblower in all of this, according to VeloNews:

The nature — and even existence — of the reported federal investigation into Floyd Landis’ claims against Lance Armstrong and others is unknown. But a San Francisco lawyer who specializes in bringing fraud suits against government contractors says Landis could be acting as a whistleblower for a False Claims Act suit. [...]

The USPS paid an estimated $8 million and $10 million a year to the cycling team’s management company during the Post Office’s four years’ involvement with the team.

As I wrote last week, quoting the great documentary: this might get loud.

CORRECTION: The USPS hasn't been taxpayer funded since the early 1980s. I honestly didn't know that -- a bit of information that makes its existence even more remarkable. I don't know how they remain in business.

Adding... While the USPS sponsorship didn't involve taxpayer money, the USPS is part of the federal government and drug use would then involve fraud against the government.

A False Claims Act prosecution would have to establish that the team’s management was aware that some athletes on the team doped while sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. Attorney Paul D. Scott said that could be tantamount to defrauding the federal government.

“Presumably the purpose of sponsorship is for the athletes to reflect well on the sponsor. If it turns out there was illegal drug use and that was known to the company at the time, and the company represented that its athletes were clean, that would be fraud against the government,” said Scott, a former U.S. Department of Justice attorney.

The investigator, Jeff Novitzky, also brought down Marion Jones and exposed both Clemons and Bonds.

I don't know what will happen with this case, but I assure you, because of this investigation Lance will not win the Tour de France this year. His odds were thin to begin with, but between the exposure, the mental strain and the suspicion-raising notion of a 38-year-old Tour winner, there's just no way.