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Landis ponders Floyd Landis ponders a question from the audience.
"Fairness Fund" under examination by authorities
Retired professional Floyd Landis has confirmed that federal authorities in San Diego have initiated an investigation into his "Floyd Fairness Fund", confirming a report by Cyclingnews published earlier this month.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported earlier today that its sources confirmed that Landis had received a "target letter" from the US Attorney's office. The officials would not confirm the investigation, but sources say the fund is being looked into for "possible wire and mail fraud". Landis later confirmed the story with ESPN.
The Floyd Fairness Fund was launched in 2007 to raise money to pay for Landis' legal defense against the doping charges that ultimately lost him his 2006 Tour de France victory.
Landis vigorously denied he had used synthetic testosterone during the event, and challenged the accuracy of the lab tests that showed he did. But years later he admitted he had doped during his career, up to and including the 2006 Tour.
In a letter to ESPN, Landis said he intended to repay the donors, and was "acutely aware that accepting money on a false premise and then later returning it does not erase the lie".
According to today's ESPN report, Landis did not have check-writing authority on the Fairness Fund, and all of the donations went to his legal defense. His fund was audited by an external firm.
Landis' attorney Leo Cunningham said of the investigation, "I know that there are very experienced lawyers in the San Diego U.S. Attorney’s Office, and we are confident they would do the right thing once they had a complete understanding of all the facts behind anything they might be investigating," according to the U-T San Diego.
The investigation is distinct from the grand jury investigation into Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team, of which Landis was a former member. That case was wrapped up without an indictment earlier this year in a controversial move by the US Attorneys.
The latest investigation into Landis' finances will add to his already sizable legal problems: French authorities have accused him of hacking the computers of the anti-doping laboratory that generated the results of his 2006 doping positive, and the UCI has threatened a lawsuit against him for defamation.