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US Attorney standing by decision to drop Armstrong investigation

Cycling News
February 5, 2013, 22:00,
February 5, 2013, 21:57
First Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Lance Armstrong waved goodbye to his 7 Tours de France

Lance Armstrong waved goodbye to his 7 Tours de France

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Doping confession by Armstrong "hasn't changed our view"

Despite Lance Armstrong's public confession to doping on Oprah Winfrey's talk show, the US attorney who last February dropped the federal investigation into the former Tour de France champion remains steadfast in his decision to not pursue criminal charges.

"We made a decision on that case a little over a year ago," U.S. Attorney André Birotte said, according to Reuters. "Obviously, we've been well aware of the statements that have been made by Mr. Armstrong in other media reports. That does not change my view at this time."

The abrupt end to the two-year federal investigation of Armstrong on February 3, 2012 was a sudden and unexpected decision, surprising many of the investigators involved with the case. Nonetheless, United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart took up the reins with his organisation's own investigation into Armstrong, culminating with the Texan being stripped of all seven Tour de France titles and being banned for life from any sport adhering to Word Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) code.

Speaking at a press conference in Washington, DC, unrelated to the Armstrong investigation, Birotte said that the government will continue to look at the case, but stated that Armstrong's confession to doping "hasn't changed our view".

While Armstrong may have avoided charges of fraud sought by the federal investigation ended by Birotte, the beleaguered Texan's legal woes are still considerable as he faces a whistleblower lawsuit from former teammate Floyd Landis, a lawsuit from SCA Promotions seeking repayment of bonus money plus a lawsuit from the British Sunday Times newspaper seeking to recoup money paid to Armstrong from a libel case.

Pignone Fisso More than 1 year ago
Could this also mean The Justice Department will not be joining the whistleblower lawsuit filed by Landis?
mikeelmer More than 1 year ago
The DOJ is NOT joining the whistle blower lawsuit, their deadline to join was the same week of the Lance-Oprah interview
Silver Bullet More than 1 year ago
NO MIKE, they were granted an extension to that deadline to join.
Rae N. More than 1 year ago
What I don't understand is how FL can have any standing to benefit from a whistleblower lawsuit, since he participated in and profited from the crime, and "blew the whistle" only after being caught and failing in his attempt to re-join the team. Aren't there laws against criminals profiting in any way from their crimes?
bigballer More than 1 year ago
This has been not been talked about at all, and to preface I do not condone doping in the slightest bit. As a former athlete I was cheated by dopers, and for that matter cheated in the classroom in university. It's clear this doping case against Armstrong et. al. would have not materialized as it did if it weren't for the Federal investigation, where these athletes, under oath, confessed to doping (unlike Barry Bonds etc). What concerns me though is that this Federal case was dropped, they determined that these guys did not break the law. Yet, the evidence was handed over to a pseudo government agency that would not have had the leverage to extract these confessions on their own. The problem I see is this sets a precedence that the Feds can aid an external agency under the guise of opening an investigation, where the likely outcome is no charges filed, and the evidence is handed over. How is this legal?
mikeelmer More than 1 year ago
You are not quite correct. The ONLY reason that there was a Federal investigation, was because the USPS team was funded by the US Government (sort of), not just because they were doping. Had Lance been on any other team, the Fed investigation would have never occured.
bigballer More than 1 year ago
Actually, I am correct and you are not correct AT ALL. Do your homework! The USPS does not receive any taxpayer funds, it's completely run on revenue. The Federal investigation actually started with Kyle Leogrande and Joe Papp involving the illegal distribution of controlled substances.
mikeelmer More than 1 year ago
I actually know my homework quite well. You are right in that the USPS does not receive taxpayer funds, but the USPS funding IS considered Public funds, and therefore is the only reason that USPS team was investigated! I was actually trying to be nice in my comment, but you had to get nasty. You are right, the investigation started under Leogrande, but the ONLY reason it went to USPS team was because of the Government funding. The investigation was for FRAUD of the Govenment, it was NOT for distributing controlled substances.
Terrence Martineau More than 1 year ago
@ TERMINATOR... so the non-tax dollars that the government collects from selling bonds is not public funds either? If a government entity makes money from selling something E.G. STAMPS... those are public funds... think about it for 5 seconds I'm sure you'll figure it out... lol...
Jack Kasza More than 1 year ago
Sorry big balls, you do not know of what you speak. USADA has said that got no help or evidence from the DOJ. None. They were on there own. USADA was very clear that that they did ALL the leg work and had to put the case together. That is why it is legal. USADA was doing what they are given tax $ to do--and did an awesome job considering they brought down the patron. I see political and monetary reasons for dropping the case. AND it was a criminal case, which was nothing like a illegal doping investigation.
brian meahan More than 1 year ago
According to what USADA has previously stated, the Feds did not share any information or evidence with them.
bigballer More than 1 year ago
Can you provide any references for this?
Terrence Martineau More than 1 year ago
"The American continued by explaining that USADA did not receive any information from the federal investigation into Armstrong's former team, US Postal, even though this had initially been planned. The fraud investigation was filed last February." "The witnesses told us exactly what they had declared to FDA inspectors, and we could confirm all the evidence. " "Tygart asked the federal investigators to share some evidence they had uncovered outside the grand jury. But the Justice Department would not comply, he said."
Terrence Martineau More than 1 year ago
"The American continued by explaining that USADA did not receive any information from the federal investigation into Armstrong's former team, US Postal, even though this had initially been planned. The fraud investigation was filed last February. "The witnesses told us exactly what they had declared to FDA inspectors, and we could confirm all the evidence." right here on cyclingnews "Tygart asked the federal investigators to share some evidence they had uncovered outside the grand jury. But the Justice Department would not comply, he said." from NY Times can't put links.. just Google part of the quote to find articles...
Tideplay1 More than 1 year ago
and it is not correct to say they determined no crime had been committed. Rather, we do not know how or why they did not proceed. Those who knew have said there was considerable evidence, There are many factors, including cost, complexity, politics, etc. And the USADA is not a pseudo anything. They are completely regulated legally authorized and follow due process and international regulations as well. Don't buy the Armstrong lawyer spin
Dr_Stav More than 1 year ago
In terms of economics, the cost of a case will have to show justification. There will be a feasibility table looking for the return on investment. Should USPS defraud by $30m, the court may decide that only 2/3rds of that is recoverable due to the viability of the group they are recovering it from, losses in the process or the fact that entities originally funded may not exist any more. The cost of the investigation itself may be another $10m for legal representation, access to sources travel, time etc, leaving only $10m remaining for recovery. If there is a viability cut of say 40%, then no matter how morally wrong the crime may be, economically it may not be justifiable on the public purse (the case of the greater good). Should the charges go through, then there is the trial cost. And possible appeals. Recovering costs incurred in the investigation may bankrupt a few of the entities they are after, therefore the debt would be required to be written off - money never recovered. This may leave a very limited pot of fraudulent money accessible. I'm never clear on the partition between personal money (ie money that is not directly attributed to the original investment) and direct money from the original investment. This partition may separate LA's personal value from money he'll be liable for from the USPS case. Also, this is not just a LA case. The money was contracted to the USPS team, therefore all those who doped will be liable for breach of contract and will have to shoulder some of the penalty should the case progress. Taking money back from those who have prospered after retirement may be financially sound to absorb this. Those who didn't become millionaires may be looking at bankruptcy.
RobbieCanuck More than 1 year ago
You are confusing a criminal prosecution for fraud with a civil case based on fraud for return of the money. You sound like a behavioural economist espousing expectancy theory as opposed to recognizing that the criminal justice system does not operate on the basis of "return on investment" The criminal justice system prosecutes crime where a crime has been committed. It seems to me and I suspect to most Americans, a $30 million fraud justifies a criminal charge with criminal sanctions. No criminal trial has an "economc benefit" (unless you consider all of the people it employs). From an economist's point of view they are a lost leader. From a morally and legally accountable point of view the public demands criminal prosecutions.
Donovan Jackson More than 1 year ago
Birotte is worth every cent.
paul_001 More than 1 year ago
The most refreshing thing to come out of all of this is that an organisation like USADA published the evidence and facts from their investigation putting the entire legal system to shame. To think that the people and publications were successfully sued by Armstrong, who only reported facts and truth was successful says there is a problem with the law that should be addressed.
SeventhSon More than 1 year ago
Yes it is refreshing Paul. I wonder if Mr. Birotte is concerned about his motives coming to question... When the Feds dropped the case, it stunk, and it's not getting any better with time.
Terrence Martineau More than 1 year ago
This was a slimy, political decision... it was too politically risky to be involved in prosecuting an 'American Hero' in an election year... to be seen as against cancer survivors as Lance Armstrong painted other.. political suicide... this isn't rocket science to figure out...
danjo007 More than 1 year ago
the "mouth-frothers" will be out in force with their pichforks. LOL
RobbieCanuck More than 1 year ago
I am a former Crown Prosecuter in Canada. I was also a defence lawyer for 30 years. The evidence that Lance Armstrong has committed fraud is overwhelming and it is preposterous the American DOJ does not have a case. There has to be something political going on or perhaps LA's lawyer has provided Birotte with some information that is causing him not to pursue charges arisng out of the LA Grand Jury case. But to say he is comfortable with his decision is disquieting. Fraud is not that hard to prove. In Canada, our Supreme Court has approved inter alia, the British Court's definition "To defraud is to deprive by deceit, and it is a deceit to induce a man (or a company) to act to his injury" Generally speaking this is also the substance of the law in the US. In fact the American RICO laws expand that definition. Anyone who has read the USADA reasoned decision in its proper context could not help but see loads of evidence to support a charge. It seems to me the taxpayers of the US and the US Postal Service were deprived of millions of dollars (in excess of $30M) by deceit There was in every US Postal contract, a contractural obligation made by every rider they were not using PEDs as a condition of receiving sponsorship money. It appears a whole nation was induced to part with their money to their injury by Armstrong etal, and in any event to their everlasting regret. If you don't prosecute the largest fraud in sports history, whey do you?
Rae N. More than 1 year ago
Is there a distinction between those who contracted with the USPS on behalf of the team (Tailwind Sports?) -- hereinafter referred to as "the team" -- and the employees of the team (including the manager Bruyneel), who violated their contracts with the team. The employees did not have contracts with the USPS themselves, did they? So even though we know that doping was present, organized, and abetted the manager, within the team, does that necessarily mean that "the team" itself violated the contract with USPS? Maybe the evidence for that is there, but I haven't read the report and haven't seen anyone specifically address this.
RobbieCanuck More than 1 year ago
It is my understanding that US Postal was not prepared to give sponsorship money to the team whether managed by Tailwind or anyone else if any of the cyclists doped. This was fundamental to their sponsorhip.Therefore it was a condition of the sponsorship money whoever received it that all riders who signed contracts with US Postal agreed they were not and would not use PEDS. Several of the cyclists (Armstrong, Landis, Hamilton, Hincapie etc.) contracturally stated they had not and would not dope. This was what induced US Postal to part with their money. So regardless of who directly received the sponsorhip money it was the deceit of Armstrong, Bruyneel etal that primarily induced USP to part with their money.