13 August 2010

Doping Investigation

Maybe we should take this seriously
The year ahead will surely bring some big surprises. People often ask us cyclists our opinion about doping and Lance Armstrong. All I know is he is a part of history. All I believe is he is not alone in this sport. Anything else I am open for surprise. I have no idea how this whole doping investigation will turn out.
I do know we should take this seriously no matter what our personal opinion might be. Lance Armstrong is a strong character, a powerful manipulator of media with great wisdom in understanding how to make things happen. He also claims to have never failed a drug test. But Armstrong is up against a very smart experienced dedicated and serious man. This man's name is Jeff Novitsky. He has already prosecuted baseball player Barry Bonds and American Olympic track star Marion Jones.
Marion Jones went to jail for 6 months. Barry Bonds is looking at years in jail. Indicted in 2007, his trial is not until March of 2011. The current doping investigation in cycling conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration could go on for years. Jeff Novitsky is a Federal Agent for the US Food and Drug Administration. Now you'd think that he would not be a man to be feared, but I'm afraid he is. He is a law enforcement agent, willing to spend millions of dollars and years of time.
The character of Jeff Novitsky could have been crafted with perfection by an author writing about the shrewdest lawyer in a best selling novel. Sports Illustrated described Novitsky as, "smart, meticulous, sophisticated, well-prepared and "straight as an arrow". A relentless bulldog, creative, and charming in his ability to bring people out, he is known to stretch the rules of investigation. He formerly worked at the Internal Revenue Service (as an accountant) and is himself an athlete. The son of a basketball coach, he his 6 foot 6 inches tall and 43 years old, married, with children.
A Grand Jury is seated in Los Angeles and is currently taking testimony. Other althletes subpoenaed as a result of the federal investigation of possible perjury, financial wrongdoing, fraud, and doping charges include former cyclists and teammates of Lance Armstrong's from the U.S. Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Astana, and Radio Shack teams. Also Rock Racing, Frank and Betsy Andreu, Rahsaan Bahati, Greg Lemond, SCA Promotions, Trek Bicycle Corporation, Tailwind, and Nike. 
Lance Armstrong is not the only cyclist accused, American cyclists David Zabriskie, George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer are also accused of doping. 
  • Greg Lemond's disturbing interview with Men's Journal from 2008
  • Lance Armstrong testimony from November 30, 2005
  • Floyd Landis's story: Landis admits doping, accuses Lance
  • What is the BALCO investigation?
  • Who started all this? The Jeff Novitzky's probe into cycling began after the Food and Drug Administration was notified about a cache of performance-enhancing drugs that a landlord found in the vacated apartment of Kayle Leogrande, a little-known cyclist with a doping ban who rode for Rock Racing. 
  • Who is the Grand Jury?: The panel operates in secret and is made up of between 16 and 23 eligible citizens whose identities are not publicly disclosed. Federal grand juries, especially those that hear detailed investigations, meet regularly over several months. Grand Jury's are often used to lock people into their testimony, so that if their testimony changes over time, charges can be pressed. Once the grand jury has heard all the testimony, it will decide whether to deliver indictments. Once an indictment is delivered it can take years to hear the case, and then deliver the verdict, and decide the sentence (penalty). 
  • It has only just begun. 
*post post note on 08/19/10: Roger Clemens Is Indicted on Perjury Charges A federal grand jury has indicted Roger Clemens on charges of making false statements to Congress about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.