The long knives are coming out.
Is Armstrong’s empire crashing around him?
. . . [w]hether on the bike or in front of a microphone, Armstrong seems to have lost the finely tuned balance that saw him successfully fend off challengers, whether they were on the bike or in press row.
Armstrong told reporters at the start of Stage 10 that he never had any ownership in Tailwind Sports LLC, the entity that owned the U.S. Postal Service team, and that he was merely an employee like any other rider. “That’s completely untrue,” he said of reports he held an equity stake in Tailwind. “No ownership; none at all.”
That’s a highly relevant fact, because the investigation into the Postal years hinges in part on whether Tailwind Sports, the team’s owner, might have defrauded the federal government by using federal funds to support doping on the team. If proved in court, the riders might not be held criminally responsible for that but team officials and owners would.
. . . [A]s Bonnie Ford at ESPN and numerous other outlets have pointed out, that statement directly contradicts Armstrong’s own testimony in the SCA Insurance case in 2005. In his deposition there, Armstrong acknowledges owning 10 percent of Tailwind, although he professes to be unclear about when his ownership stake began.
It is no small point when prior testimony under oath is at odds with what one then proclaims to be the truth today. It is, relatively speaking, the same issue that faces Floyed Landis – are you lying now or were you lying then?
Questions are being asked, relevant parties under oath. Information is being gathered.
The NY Times reported yesterday that federal subpoenas have been issued to potential witnesses, and the NY Daily News, in a story reporting that Postal sponsor Trek Bicycles had been served, mentioned that the subpoenas had originated from a grand jury.
If true, that would indicate the investigation is moving swiftly, since federal grand juries compel and consider evidence to determine whether to recommend a criminal indictment.
You had better believe it is moving swiftly. Everyone knows that save Armstrong himself.
Speaking to reporters at the Tour, Armstrong also spoke critically of the investigation, asking rhetorically if the American people “feel like this is a good use of their tax dollars?” He said that while he was respectful of the process, he would only cooperate in a “legitimate and credible and fair investigation,” not a “witch hunt,” before finishing, “I’ve done too many good things for too many people.”
Armstrong has sometimes been accused of using his work with his cancer foundation as a shield against criticism. That is a charge I’ve never made. But I’ve also never heard him invoke that substantive and important legacy in such a bold fashion as he did today. And he seems to be willfully unaware that this is a federal criminal investigation; his interest in participating is immaterial.
Armstrong’s work on behalf of fighting cancer isn’t the issue here. The issue is whether or not Floyd Landis is telling the truth and, if he is, whether Lance Armstrong knowingly used Postal Service money to dope to win the Tour de France and enrich himself, thus defrauding the federal government.