US government officially asked for cooperation
US federal agents investigating charges of alleged doping on the former US Postal Service team, including seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, have reportedly met with French police at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, France today.
The Associated Press reported today that the American delegation, led by FDA (Food and Drug Administration) agent Jeff Novitzky, interviewed members of the national police who are involved in investigating doping cases.
The agency, the Environnement et santé publique (OCLAESP), was investigating syringes and illegal transfusion equipment discovered in a trash container at the 2009 Tour de France, and had questioned the Astana and Caisse d'Epargne team management in relation to this finding.
Johan Bruyneel, the director of Astana in 2009, former US Postal Service team director and current director of Armstrong's RadioShack team was questioned as part of the OCLAESP investigation earlier this year, but the proceedings in that case have stalled.
The agents yesterday questioned representatives of the French anti-doping agency, the AFLD (Agence Française de Lutte contre le Dopage), as part of the federal investigation which came to light earlier this year, when Armstrong's former US Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis confessed to doping and leveled accusations of widespread doping practices against Armstrong and the team management, including Bruyneel.
A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has so far called a number of people to testify regarding Armstrong, including former teammates George Hincapie and Tyler Hamilton, and more recently Armstrong's current teammate Yaroslav Popovych.
AP and Reuters have each reported that the US government officially asked the French agencies for their cooperation before the delegation arrived, and the French have agreed to assist the investigation.
Former AFLD head Pierre Bordry offered to hand over Armstrong's samples from the 1999 Tour de France, which were used as part of a research study looking to improve the test for EPO. Several of the samples were reported to have contained the drug, but an independent investigation cleared Armstrong of doping charges.
Armstrong has repeatedly denied ever using banned substances during his racing career.
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