US Postal investigation steps up as Novitzky heads to Paris to meet with AFLD

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team (Image credit: AFP Photo)

The US government investigation into doping in professional cycling has moved to France. The AP reports that an American delegation including Food and Drug Administration (FDA) investigator Jeff Novitzky, federal prosecutor Doug Miller and US Antidoping Agency CEO Travis Tygart is said to be in France.

The delegation will meet with the French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) which plans to share everything it knows and answer all questions, according to an anonymous source within that agency. The source further said that the meetings were planned for this week.

A source based in the US and who has talked to Novitzky on several occasions told Cyclingnews that, “he told me he’s going to Europe in November.”

“He’ll be talking to a few people. I hope whoever he talks to tells them everything they can."

Cyclingnews contacted Novitzky last week and he refused to be drawn on the matter saying, “No comment,” when asked if he was coming to Europe. If asked he had any plans to travel to Europe in the future, he repeated the statement, before adding, “I’m not going to comment on anything.”

Tygart did not respond to the AP's calls, with a recording message saying only that he was out of the office on business.

Pierre Bordry, the now-retired head of the AFLD, had earlier said that he would give Novitzky Lance Armstrong's doping control samples from the 1999 'Tour de France, if requested. The AP's source said he did not know whether the request had been made.

The French newspaper L'Equipe published reports five years ago which claimed that Armstrong's leftover samples from the '99 Tour were tested retroactively as part of a research study, and some were found to contain EPO. Armstrong mounted a vigorous defense against the reports at the time.

In a statement provided today, Armstrong's counsel Mark Fabiani said, "The samples were clean when originally provided and tested. So we have nothing to be concerned about. Period."

The US federal investigation has been ongoing for several months, and a grand jury has been assembled to hear statements by people who have been involved with the former US Postal Service team. Most recently, Armstrong's teammate Yaroslav Popovych testified before the grand jury. Last week his house was searched by Italian investigators, but it was unclear as to whether it was related to the US investigation.

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