US media reports said that US Federal investigators have launched a new criminal investigation targetting Armstrong in the wake of the disgraced cyclist’s admission that he cheated his way to seven Tour de France championships. The investigation has been launched after a previous two year investigation on Armstrong for crimes reportedly including drug distribution, fraud and conspiracy was suddenly dropped last year.
The report contradicted a claim by US attorney Andre Birotte that his department had no plans to press charges against Armstrong. “Birotte does not speak for the federal government as a whole. Agents are actively investigating Armstrong,” an anonymous source told ABC News.
Armstrong is now being investigated for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation. According to media reports investigators focussing their investigation on how Armstrong bullied and intimidated associates, including taking legal action, to conceal his doping over more than a decade.
Armstrong is currently serving a lifetime ban handed down by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). He had been given a Feb. 6 deadline to provide detailed evidence of his doping and the people who aided it to the USADA or lose his last chance at a possible break on the lifetime ban. He failed to meet the deadline after indicating that he would be willing to give further evidence under oath to a truth and reconciliation commission run by World Anti-Doping Agency.
More legal woes
While Armstrong might face jail only if authorities decide to prosecute, he still faces a number of legal issues. The 41-year-old American is being sued for around £1m by the Sunday Times. There is also an ongoing “whistleblower” case involving former team-mate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his own 2006 Tour de France victory.
That suit could see the US federal government reclaim money used to fund Armstrong’s US Postal Service team, with Landis possibly receiving 25% of any amount recovered under the Federal False Claims Act.
US insurance company SCA Promotions has already demanded the return of $12 million in bonuses it paid to Armstrong with the firm’s attorney saying he expected to file a lawsuit by Wedneday.