Italian police meet with Novitzky in Lyon

Has Popovych become key to the investigation?

US federal agents, including Jeff Novitzky, have met with Italian police, in addition to their French counterparts, according to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport.

The investigation of alleged doping at the former US Postal Service team, including seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, continues to pick up pace and this latest development comes off the back of Novitzky's meeting with the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD).

Armstrong has repeatedly denied ever using banned substances during his career but the investigation has intensified thanks to coordination between US agents and investigators in Europe that began in July. Also said to be present in Europe are federal prosecutor Doug Miller and US Anti-doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart.

AP and Reuters have reported that the US government officially asked the French authorities for their cooperation before the delegation arrived, and the French have agreed to assist the investigation. On Tuesday the US agents reportedly questioned the director of the Châtenay-Malabry anti-doping laboratory and the ex chief of the Agence française de lutte contre le dopage (AFLD) Pierre Bordry and current head of testing Jean-Pierre Verdy.

Gazzetta dello Sport claims the Italian police revealed details of the recent search of Yaroslav Popovych’s home in Tuscany to the US investigators. Popovych’s address book, computer and mobile phones were seized. The search was carried out on Thursday November 11, just over a week after the Ukrainian rider was questioned in Los Angeles as part of the investigation.

The Italian sports newspaper suggests that Popovych could have become a key to the investigation. He rode with Armstrong in 2005 at the Discovery Channel team, at Astana in 2009 and at RadioShack this year.

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