Federal prosecutors are obtaining more evidence in their doping investigation linked to seven-time Tour de France winner, American Lance Armstrong. This week, they have received an offer from the Tour de France anti-doping agency to co-operate and telephone recordings from American Greg LeMond.
According to the LA Times, prosecutors received a telephone conversation secretly recorded by former Tour de France winner LeMond six years ago, in July 2004. During the conversation, LeMond talks with Armstrong's liaison to eyewear company Oakley, Stephanie McIlvain, who said she was present in 1996 when Armstrong told his cancer doctors he doped.
"I'm not asking you to do anything you would never want to do," said LeMond. "But, if I did get down where it was ... a lawsuit ... would you be willing to testify?"
"If I was subpoenaed, I would," said McIlvain. "I'm not going to lie. ... I was in that room. I heard it. ... My whole concern is my loyalties to Oakley. ... They say I was never in there. And I know I was in there. You know, I totally know I was in there."
Armstrong's former team-mate, Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy were also there at the hospital. They testified in a 2005 civil case that Armstrong told doctors that he used EPO, steroids, human growth hormone, cortisone and testosterone. In the same case, however, McIlvain denied she ever heard Armstrong make the admission.
LeMond gave the contradictory telephone recording with McIlvain and other evidence to federal prosecutors of the USA's Food and Drug Administration's (FDA). They are investigating Floyd Landis' allegations that Armstrong doped during his seven Tour de France victories.
Landis sent an e-mail to USA's cycling federation detailing the team's doping practices, which included blood transfusions and testosterone patches, on April 30. The e-mail was subsequently leaked to the media on May 19.
Jeff Novitzky, an agent for the FDA, was reportedly already working on a case involving drugs found in the apartment of cyclist Kayle Leogrande and found Landis' allegations interesting. Armstrong rode for a team sponsored by the USA's postal service from 1998 to 2004 and, if Landis' allegations were true, he essentially used taxpayers' money to fund his doping.
Novitzky and his team have subpoenaed Stephanie McIlvain, according to LA Times' sources. They have also issued subpoenas to Armstrong's former team-mate Tyler Hamilton and three-time Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond. They have also requested documents from Armstrong's long-time sponsors, Nike and Trek.
More documents and evidence may arrive from France. Yesterday, the head of the French anti-doping agency (AFLD), Pierre Bordry said he will hand over Armstrong's B samples from the 1999 Tour de France if asked to do so by the FDA.
"They can ask us anything, we will do it," Bordry said in a press conference, according to the Associated Press. "We can either send them the samples or do the testing ourselves."
A test for blood booster EPO only became available in 2000, but the AFLD has preserved backup urine samples from previous years. In 2005, French newspaper L'Equipe reported that Armstrong's backup B samples contained EPO.
Armstrong denies Landis' allegations and using performance-enhancing drugs during his career. He completed his comeback to cycling this July at the Tour de France.
Landis won the 2006 Tour de France racking with team Phonak, but days later, the title was taken from him when a test revealed he used testosterone. He initially fought the charges, but later admitted to doping.
World Champs fall-out over Landis conference invite
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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.
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