Federal prosecutors have ended the criminal investigation of seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong. The investigation examined evidence that Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service pro cycling team used anabolic steroids and performance-enhancing drugs during the time it received government sponsorship. While the investigation may have involved steroids, its focus was on whether federal conspiracy, fraud, witness tampering and/or racketeering laws were violated.
The announcement by U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr.was welcomed by Armstrong, Livestrong and his supporters. However, Assistant U.S. Attorneys Doug Miller and Mark Williams and FDA Criminal Division investigator Jeff Novitzky were reportedly surprised and disappointed by the announcement.
Birotte did not provide an explanation for the decision. This opened the door for conspiracy theorists to speculate that Lance Armstrong’s legal team politically influenced the decision.
The sudden end of the almost two-year investigation slows down the colossal spending of millions of dollars in taxpayer money that has gone into the Lance Armstrong investigation. This included all-expense paid trip to Europe in 2010 as part of their investigation of Lance Armstrong.
The end of the criminal investigation involving Lance Armstrong doesn’t necessarily mean that U.S. taxpayers will see the use of tax dollars to conduct anti-steroid witch-hunts will entirely come to an end.
USADA’s Travis Tygart has promised that he will continue to spend taxpayer money to determine if Armstrong may have used steroids several years earlier.
USADA is an independent, non-governmental and non-profit organization that derives the overwhelming majority of their funding from the federal government. USADA reported that 74% of its $13.3 million dollar budget in 2009 was courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. The federal grant is another expenditure in the U.S. “war on drugs” distributed by through the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).
Tygart has promised he will spend as much taxpayer money as it takes to pursue USADA’s witch-hunt against Lance Armstrong.
“Clean athletes and those that value the integrity of sport can rest assured that USADA will leave no stone unturned to obtain the evidence to reveal the truth, whatever that truth may be in our investigation of the doping allegations in the sport of cycling,” Tygart told Cyclingnews.com.
Benson, D. (February 5, 2012). USADA still investigating doping allegations against Armstrong. Retrieved from http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/usada-still-investigating-doping-allegations-against-armstrong