Federal crime and doping are separate matters, notes Hamilton lawyer
Lance Armstrong has welcomed the news that the federal investigation into allegations of systematic doping at his former US Postal Service team has been closed.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced on Friday that the investigation had concluded without charges. No explanation was offered for the decision.
The investigation was triggered in earnest in May 2010, when Floyd Landis confessed to doping while at US Postal, and implicated Armstrong and manager Johan Bruyneel in his outline of the alleged practices at the team.
“I am gratified to learn that the U.S. Attorney's Office is closing its investigation," Lance Armstrong said in a statement. "It is the right decision and I commend them for reaching it. I look forward to continuing my life as a father, a competitor, and an advocate in the fight against cancer without this distraction."
Betsy Andreu, the wife of Armstrong’s former US Postal teammate Frankie Andreu, expressed her disappointment that the investigation had concluded without charges being filed. Both Frankie and Betsy Andreu are understood to have cooperated with the investigation, led by Jeff Novitzky.
“Our legal system failed us," Andreu said, according to ESPN. "This is what happens when you have a lot of money."
The investigation was built around discerning whether Armstrong or other members of the US Postal team set-up had violated federal conspiracy, fraud or racketeering charges rather than establishing if doping had taken place on the team.
However, the US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) has stated that it is “looking forward to obtaining the information” gathered by the grand jury investigation in order to continue its own inquiry into the matter.
One of the most damning pieces of testimony to enter the public domain was provided by Tyler Hamilton, who offered detailed descriptions of doping practices on the US Postal team in a “60 Minutes” interview in May.
His lawyer Chris Manderson explained that while the federal probe has come to an end, the sporting case against Armstrong and US Postal remains open.
"The fact that doping occurred is a separate issue from whether a federal crime occurred,” Manderson told ESPN. “If (federal authorities) made a decision not to prosecute, that doesn't mean that somebody didn't cheat in a bicycle race.''
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