American Lance Armstrong will have less time to plan races in Colorado if US federal prosecutors continue down their current path. Since the Tour de France ended, they have intensified their criminal investigation into Floyd Landis’ allegations that Armstrong doped during his seven Tour de France victories.

Prosecutors have questioned Armstrong’s team-mates and other team members from his US Postal years. Some of the cyclists have supported Landis’ claims, according to one cyclist and two other insiders interviewed by the The New York Times.

Landis rode on Armstrong’s team from 2002 to 2004. He sent a letter detailing the team’s doping practices – including blood transfusions and testosterone patches – to the US cycling federation in May and leaked it to the media on May 19.

The allegations caught the attention Jeff Novitzky, an agent for the Food and Drug Administration, because Armstrong was essentially using US citizens’ tax money to cheat since the government’s postal service sponsored the team.

Novitzky has investigated Marion Jones and Barry Bonds on steroid use, for which Jones eventually spent six months in prison for lying under oath, and is now concentrating on cycling’s biggest name. A grand jury has been convened in Los Angeles to investigate the Armstrong/US Postal case.

Novitzky and his fellow prosecutors have, according to The New York Times, heard from others who back Landis and make similar claims.

Yesterday, a former team-mate of Armstrong told the newspaper he spoke with investigators and detailed his own drug use, in addition to “widespread cheating” in US Postal. He told the newspaper it was all done with Armstrong’s knowledge and encouragement.

The rider has never testified positive for doping and asked the newspaper to remain anonymous because investigators asked him not to speak publicly about the case.

Armstrong’s former team-mate Tyler Hamilton won stages in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France and Vuelta a España, and a gold medal in the 2004 Olympics – victories tarnished by a positive test for blood doping. He is currently serving an eight-year ban, but has been subpoenaed by the grand jury.

Levi Leipheimer is Armstrong’s current team-mate at RadioShack and rode on US Postal from 2000 to 2001. Riding as the classification leader in the German team, Gerolsteiner, he made blood transfusions in 2005, according to Landis’ allegations.

German Hans-Michael Holczer, Leipheimer’s team manger at Gerolsteiner, yesterday supported Landis’ claims. In his recently published book, according to the German press, he said that Leipheimer’s blood values during the 2005 Tour de France “showed a very high probability of manipulation.”

Landis won the 2006 Tour de France, but days later, the title was taken from him when a test done during the race revealed he used testosterone. He initially fought the charges, but later admitted to doping. He returned to racing in 2009.

Armstrong in May said that Landis lacks credibility and he continues to maintain he never doped.

  • Mac

    To all those that say “just let it go / draw a line ….”
    Doping proliferates in many sports and, in cycling, it has historically done so down to a youth and amateur level in the UK. Bent doctors, the misuse of human & animal drugs and a “contact” at the local gym or club are, sadly, not just the preserve of the pro’s and elite amateurs.
    Many amateur racers will have raced againt a juiced up rider at some point ……. What if the cheat takes the result from the clean guys ? What if that result comes at the expense of the clean guy’s palmares or perhaps is the barrier to the next stage in his career ? Who makes good that wrong ?
    Everyone has the right to find out how good they are (or aren’t) and pervasive doping robs clean riders of that right. Furthermore it robs clean riders of their dreams.
    Consider a regular work environment where your colleagues plagiarised your work, or cheated you in other ways. Would you accept it ? Would you join them? I wouldn’t accept it for a minute and I don’t accept it in bike racing / sport either.

  • Duke

    I keep hoping and praying he’s not guilty.

  • Orlando

    Let`s strip all dopers of their titles. Let`s get Eddie Merckx, Jacques Anquetil, Fausto Coppi and all the others that juiced. Like that the dopers that came in second can inherit the titles. GET REAL! Improve the testing and catch the current batch. LA`s victories where in another context. This will only further discredit cycling, which is no dirtier than any other sport… Or are you guys in favor of stripping champions in other sports like Track, Football, Rowing, Swimming etc, etc..? Some sports didn`t even test much, until recently. That probably means they`re clean, right? For instance the Swimming Federation doesn`t consider EPO relevant, so they don`t test it. That means no swimmers take EPO, because swimming isn`t an endurance sport (EPO won`t help in the 1500m, or the 10k open water marathons…). What a joke.

  • Greg Davis

    Look at the stance Lemond takes against doping, he along with Paul Kimmage is one of the most outspoken anti doping ex pros. Now compare that with Armstong’s stance. His relationship with Michelle Ferrari is a subject that Lemond and Armstrong have publicly fallen out over. Armstrong has a politician’s way of answering any questions on the subject and let’s be honest we don’t trust them either.

  • Greg

    Sports are “tainted” by PED use at all levels, especially the professional level. Time to pull our collective heads out of the sand.

  • Josh

    It is important for Lance to be held accountable. HE has been such a figurehead and a hero to many (in my opinion) unsophisticated fans of cycling. I mean…yay…lets root for the brute who always wins. Where’s the heart or passion? Lance’s reign was BORING to me and typically American…obvious…and brutish. All of you who just want to move on…ok fine…that makes sense…Lance is being credited with winning 7 tours? (I’m not even sure of the # at this point) We can’t let this slide…he must be made accountable…if he is suspected of cheating, it should definitely come out. Why should we keep hiding from this? Its would be like the previous administration with W and Cheney…this is the American way…cheat, by hook or by crook…win, garner power, but to what end?
    Rotten at the core.
    I have loved cycling so much and came of age with it…thankfully before Lance’s era. I was a big Pantani fan in the early mid 90s…but he cheated. I can come to terms with that…
    If he did cheat, then screw him….suicide would be fine with me.
    If he didn’t, then GOOD! It would be a true blessing for many concerned.
    But…to turn a blind eye? That would be a distinct lack of respect for cycling as a sport and the tour de france. I wish all you rabid Lance fans would have some respect for the sport itself. It was great LONG before Lance came around.

  • Liza

    I really don’t care if he or anybody else doped or not. Where do you stop? Even Eddy Merckx got thrown out of a race for failing a test. I haven’t seen the TdF strip Pantani post-mortem of his win either. All this is really going to do at this point is hurt the LAF and trash the good things it has done for the cancer community. Everyone intent on destroying him after the fact of the TdF victories, think about what else you’re destroying in the process. Let it go already…draw a line, improve the tests, and move forward so we can just enjoy the racing.

  • mike russell

    It saddens me to see americas greatest champion endure what could be his greatest challenge.How much will this investagation cost the taxpayers?why do we have to gawk at this potential train wreck and come away with what?This country needs heroes not saints.Reguardless of the outcome of this trial,Lance has brought me into cycling,the greatest sport on the planet and for that I will be forever greatful

  • Nick

    Lemond didn’t dope,who can be sure? He never tested positive and neither did Lance but the way things are going then riders will end up being tarred with the same brush.
    If the pro peleton had doped in it’s entirety then everyone in it is on an equal footing so technically doping wouldn’t be cheating, would it? Cheating is the act of giving oneself an unfair advantage over the opposition yet if everyone was doping then no one would have this advantage.

    As for Lance, even if he did dope it’s still a massive achievement to win 7 tours after surviving from cancer.

  • Matthew

    @Keith Russell – I very firmly strongly believe Lemond wasn’t doping. There is no evidence I know of that points to this, circumstantial or otherwise.

    I also think it is very cynical to say “ I frankly doubt there is a professional on the planet who has never doped in some form” as I believe there is a decent body of evidence that a substantial number of riders are now riding clean. A retired doctor once estimated 20-30 riders who still feel they need to resort to drugs. I believe that figure is probably accurate and it is a shame this has to all blow up now when great strides have been made post Puerto.

  • philip tregear

    the hypocrisy that surrounds the anti doping debate sickens me. Do read ” testosterone dreams” by John Hobermann if you want to become better informed on this subject. My own view is that we should view professional riders as test beds for future technology, in this case pharmaceutical, which may benefit the average rider one day. If doping was legalised then these innovations would become transparent and riders would be protected from dangerous medical practices. As for LA, I am sorry that he has to be pushed into adopting extreme positions that do not reflect the reality of the sport that we, the public, love watching.

  • borderfox

    Katie on the subject Jan and co were gassed up on the gear (and remember Ullrich was and still is discribed as the biggest natural tallent of his time) could a clean Lance really be that much better?

  • Keith Russell

    Fair to say I’ve worshipped the ground Lance walked on for nearly a decade but it’s becoming harder and harder to listen to his continued denials. I thought only religon required absolute blind faith to be a believer but it is increasingly the case with LA.
    I echo one guy here who mentioned the potential fall out for the Foundation..would be such a shame to see all their work wiped out.

    Who the hell do you award the TdF to if Lance does come out as having doped? Every bloke behind doped as well.

    And by the way, if anyone thinks Greg Lemond never doped they’re even dafter than the LA fans who think the same of the Texan. I frankly doubt there is a professional on the planet who has never doped in some form.

  • Nick

    As a fan and admirer of Armstrong and what he has done both on and off the bike and giving him the benefit of the doubt whilst winning 7 tours in the midst of a doped pro peleton I must admit after looking at recent accusations and other circumstances I’m starting to think there is something in it.The main thing that’s turned it for me is how rattled he looked in his eyes during the TDF when asked about the Landis claims,I’ve never seen that in him before.Another interesting point on the case is Schleck and Contador climbed up Tourmalet 12 minutes slower than Ullrich & Armstrong in 2003,more evidence that points to possible doping.

  • katie

    Will we ever get the truth on doping?
    Armstrong keeps saying he has never failed, but even that is under question now, but as stated previously by me some time ago it is like the motorist who speeds but has never been caught making a similar statement.

    The big worry and i am not an Armstrong fan is if he has doped for all tour victories what will be the fallout on (a) his Cancer charity which I do admire and (b) cycling as a whole not just the TDF.
    If it is proved beyond all doubt that he never took drugs it makes Ulrich and co look real tosspots.

  • borderfox

    Mr Armstrong seems to be keeping a little quieter on this one me thinks remember the days of the little black book and taking photos of all those anti Lance, ask yourself this lance fans: could all these people be lying and why the sudden silence from the CHEAT himself?

  • Mike

    Matt.
    Riis, Ullrich, Zabel, Basso, Virenque, etc,etc,etc.
    None of the above tested positive but were all later proved to be cheats.
    Dont wear blinkers just cos its Lance under investigation.

  • Matthew

    He’s actually tested positive more times than David Millar, Marco Pantani, Jan Ullrich, Ivan Basso, Michael Rasmussen and Alejandro Valverde combined.

    You shouldn’t place so much faith in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ test, anti-doping should be a holistic approach including blood testing, the biological passport, targeting suspicious ‘doctors’, monitoring athlete whereabouts, and monitoring performance. Otherwise the cheaters will always stay ahead.

    Lance has failed a test. He failed a test in 1999. He just got a backdated excuse. He was also found to have EPO in his 1999 samples which were retested:
    http://velocitynation.com/content/interviews/2009/michael-ashenden

    And why do the Lance Believers only talk about Landis lies? Easy target? What about Frankie and Betsy Andreu (former teammate, Jonathan Vaugthers (former teammate), Mike Anderson (former assistant), Dr. Michael Ashenden (assistant developer of EPO test), Filippo Simeoni (prepared by Ferrari), Jakob Mørkeberg (danish blood researcher). All these people have raised massive question marks over Armstrong.

    Let me guess – they are all liars with no credibility too?

  • Mike

    This magazine lacks credibility – apart from knowing nothing about the American legal system and reporting allegations as if they were proven facts – (not to mention literary choices like placing Armstrong’s denial at the end as the only sad bit of exculpatory evidence available) – this magazine loves this story line. Why is that? I’m just not sure why cycling news has to be so masochistic – we cycling fans are sick of reading about doping. If someone is found guilty and banned – print it – so we know who not to support next race. I do appreciate, however, that the reading British public loves a bit of sensationalism – so perhaps this Mag is just the Sun of cycling publications. Why don’t you guys next tell me about how Princess Di used CERA in the spring of 1996 (based on credible anonymous sources) in order to have the stamina to keep up with her many lovers… now that is sensational 😉

  • Chris

    this is not looking too good is it?

  • Matt

    Is that Landis’ pre- or post-2009 truth?

    Or the truth that Lance still has never failed a test?

  • Matthew

    Lance keeps repeating this ‘credibility’ line, so I’ll keep repeating this:

    It’s not about credibility, it’s about truth.