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Lance Armstrong IS under active criminal investigation by Federal authorities for lying and concealing his doping
Shocking revelation comes as Armstrong tops list of America's most disliked athletesHe has also said that he will not be paying back the $12million he earned in bonuses during three of his seven Tour de France victories
Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he had doped
Daily Mail Reporter, Associated Press and Reuters Reporter
20:58 GMT, 5 February 2013
05:52 GMT, 6 February 2013
It has been revealed today that disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is the subject of an active criminal investigation by Federal investigators.
Off the hook: A lawyer overseeing the federal investigation into Lance Armstrong says there are no plans to charge him over the doping scandal
The ex-Tour de France champion is potentially facing charges of obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation relating to the systematic cover-up of his drug-taking when he was competing.
The revelation runs contrary to statements made today by the U.S. Attorney for Southern California, Andre Birotte, who spent nearly two years on a criminal investigation of Armstrong, 41, only to suddenly drop it this time last year.
Sources told ABC News that agents had recommended an indictment for the drug-cheat on charges of drug distribution, fraud and conspiracy and were stunned when the case was suddenly dropped.
Last night a high level source told ABC News, 'Birotte does not speak for the federal government as a whole.'
According to the same source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, 'Agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation.'
An email to an attorney for Armstrong was not immediately returned to ABC News.
The statement made earlier today by Andr Birotte, the U.S. attorney based in Los Angeles, follows Armstrong's confession in a blockbuster interview last month.
'We made a decision on that case a little over a year ago. Obviously, we've been well aware of the statements that have been made by Mr Armstrong in other media reports.
'That does not change my view at this time,' Birotte said at a news conference in Washington to announce an unrelated lawsuit against Standard & Poor's.
The government will continue to look at the case, Birotte added, but Armstrong's admission 'hasn't changed our view as I stand here today.'
In February 2012, Birotte said his office had closed its investigation into possible crimes by Armstrong.
Birotte's comments come amid a firestorm of backlash against the disgraced cyclist with his actions since his doping admission.
On Tuesday, Armstrong tied with former Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o in atop a Forbes poll ranking America's most disliked athletes.
Confession: Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that his seven Tour de France titles were won with the help of performance-enhancing drugs, but he denied that he used them for his 2009 comeback
The poll results came amid an ESPN report that Armstrong has no intention of paying back Texas-based SCA Promotions, which paid and insured the $12million he was awarded in bonuses during three of his seven Tour de France wins.
Speculation about charges began anew after Armstrong reversed his past doping denials in an interview with Queen of Talk Oprah Winfrey.
He told Winfrey he used performance-enhancing drugs and doping in cycling tournaments.
Legal experts said Armstrong exposed himself to possible charges of perjury or obstruction of justice.
Separately, Armstrong faces a civil whistleblower lawsuit filed by former teammate Floyd Landis, accusing Armstrong of fraud.
The U.S. Justice Department has not
said whether it intends to join the suit, and Birotte did not address
the suit at the news conference.
Armstrong has been banned from cycling for life and stripped of race wins, including seven Tour de France victories.
A lawyer for Armstrong did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
Armstrong's lawyers said last month that he will talk more about drug use in the sport, just likely not to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that led the effort to strip him of his Tour de France titles.
The question is: When
In a testy exchange of letters and statements revealing the gulf between the two sides, USADA urged Armstrong to testify under oath to help 'clean up cycling.'
Opponent: Armstrong has a continuing feud with USADA CEO Travis Tygart, who spearheaded a probe into doping on Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service teams
Armstrong's attorneys responded that the cyclist would rather take his information where it could do more good – namely to cycling's governing body and World Anti-Doping Agency officials.
USADA's response to that: 'The time for excuses is over.'
The letters underscore the continuing
feud between Armstrong and USADA CEO Travis Tygart, the man who
spearheaded the investigation that uncovered a complex doping scheme on
Armstrong's U.S. Postal Service teams.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories last year and he has been banned for life from the sport.
In the Oprah interview, Armstrong said he owed a long list of
apologies and that he would like to see his lifetime ban reduced so he
can compete again.
His most realistic avenue toward that
might be telling USADA everything he knows in a series of interviews
the agency wants started no later than tomorrow.
That seems unlikely.
Armstrong attorney Tim Herman
responded to USADA's first letter, sent Wednesday, by saying his
client's schedule is already full, and besides, 'in order to achieve the
goal of `cleaning up cycling,' it must be WADA and the (International
Cycling Union) who have overall authority to do so.'
By Friday night, Herman strongly
suggested Armstrong won't meet with USADA at all but intends to appear
before the UCI's planned “truth and reconciliation” commission.
'Why would we cooperate (with
USADA)' Herman said in a telephone interview. 'USADA isn't interested
in cleaning up cycling. Lance has said, `I'll be the first guy in the
chair when cycling is on trial, truthfully, under oath, in every gory
detail.' I think he's going testify where it could actually do some
good: With the body that's charged with cleaning up cycling,' Herman
In its last letter to Armstrong, sent
Friday evening, USADA attorney William Bock said his agency and WADA
work hand-in-hand in that effort.
'Regardless, and with or without Mr
Armstrong's help, we will move forward with our investigation for the
good of clean athletes and the future of sport,' Bock's letter reads.
Shamed: Armstrong told Oprah that he never tried to stop or change the culture of drug use in the sport
The letters confirm a December 14 meeting
in Denver involving Armstrong, Tygart and their respective attorneys,
which is when, in Tygart's words, Armstrong should have started thinking
about a possible meeting with USADA.
'He has been given a deadline of
February 6 to determine whether he plans to come in and be part of the
solution,' Tygart said in a statement. 'Either way, USADA is moving
forward with our investigation on behalf of clean athletes.'
Among Tygart's claims: Armstrong is lying when he says he didn't dope during his 2009-10 comeback.
Tygart said USADA's report on Armstrong's doping included evidence Armstrong was still cheating in those years.
Seventh heaven: Lance Armstrong will talk more about drug use in the sport, just likely not to the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that led the effort to strip him of his Tour de France titles
'His comeback was totally clean,' Herman said. 'It's pretty fashionable to kick Lance Armstrong around right now.'
Tygart also reiterated that an
Armstrong associate offered USADA a donation of more than $200,000.
Armstrong denied that in his interview with Winfrey.
In advancing his claim that USADA is
only a bit player in the investigation, Herman noted in his letter, sent
to USADA on Friday, that most cycling teams are based in Europe.
'I'm pretty sick of people trying to blame a European cycling culture that goes back to the 1920s on one guy,' Herman said.
Bock's response to that: 'Your
suggestion that there is some other body with which Lance should
coordinate is misguided,' he said in his final letter.