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Investigator Novitzky Pursues Lance Armstrong Doping Claims

Investigator Novitzky Pursues Lance Armstrong Doping Claims

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Published by Cycling Fan
This article by TIME goes a bit indepth into the background of the federal investigations into sporting drug scandals. Also has interesting statements from Don Caitlin, one of the foremost doping experts in the country, saying that he believes such cases are usually very expensive affairs but in the end, athletes do not get anything more but a "slap on the hand"
This article by TIME goes a bit indepth into the background of the federal investigations into sporting drug scandals. Also has interesting statements from Don Caitlin, one of the foremost doping experts in the country, saying that he believes such cases are usually very expensive affairs but in the end, athletes do not get anything more but a "slap on the hand"

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Published by: Cycling Fan on Jul 24, 2010
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Thursday, Jul. 22, 2010
Lance Armstrong: Has Drug ProbeGone Too Far?
By Sean Gregory 
Jeff Novitzky, an investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), has been called theEliot Ness of the steroid era. In 2002, when he was an Internal Revenue Service special agent, hespearheaded the landmark probe into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO), which wassupplying performance-enhancing drugs to several high-profile athletes, including, allegedly, home-runking Barry Bonds. The BALCO case (which also involved money laundering, which is where the IRScomes in) thrust steroids and sports into the spotlight. The relentless Novitzky, who dove intoDumpsters to collect evidence, earned a slice of fame too.Novitzky contributed to the 2007 Mitchell Report, baseball's independent investigation into steroid useamong its players, by persuading former New York Mets clubhouse attendant Kurt Radomski, a supplierof steroids to Major League players, to become an informant. He's also investigating whether formerpitcher Roger Clemens perjured himself before Congress by denying under oath that he usedperformance-enhancing drugs. It's serious business: former track star Marion Jones pleaded guilty tomaking false statements to Novitzky about her own steroid use and went to prison for it. "He's kind of anamazing phenomenon," says Peter Keane, professor and dean emeritus at Golden Gate University Schoolof Law, who has closely followed Novitzky's work. "He's kind of a bloodhound. No matter what swamp ortree you hide in, he's going to find you."(See the top 10 sporting cheats.)Novitzky moved to the FDA in 2008, where another alleged steroid connection provided his biggesttarget yet. That target is not hiding in a tree but riding his bike through the Pyrenees: seven-time Tourde France winner Lance Armstrong, who has been accused by disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis of doping.Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after failing a drug test, has admitted to usingperformance-enhancing drugs during his cycling career, following a somewhat pathetic campaign toprove that he didn't cheat on the Tour. He has sensationally accused Armstrong of doping while they  both rode for the team sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service earlier in the decade. Among Landis'allegations: the team sold some of its bikes to fund the doping program. If the team did in fact use
Investigator Novitzky Pursues Lance Armstrong Steroid Claims -- Printout ...http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2005820,00.html1 of 424/07/2010 10:20
sponsorship funds from the Postal Service to buy drugs, the government could prosecute Armstrong andhis team for fraud. Cue Novitzky.(Comment on this story.)Novitzky has reportedly contacted several of Armstrong's former USPS teammates, and the New York 
 Daily News
reported that the government subpoenaed three-time Tour de France champ Greg LeMondto testify. LeMond loathes Armstrong and for years has accused him of using performance-enhancingdrugs. Armstrong has long denied taking any such substances and has never failed a drug test. He'sdismissed Landis as a proven liar and LeMond as a guy with a big chip on his shoulder. Armstrong sayshe has not been subpoenaed and has yet to meet with Novitzky but will do so as long as the case doesn't become "a witch hunt."(See the top 10 sports moments of 2009.)In building a case against Armstrong, Novitzky isn't just taking on another big-name athlete. He'schasing down an icon, an inspirational figure whose high-profile battle against cancer and heroicfundraising efforts to increase research and support for cancer patients have transcended sports. "Doesthe public care about drugs in sports anymore? I don't think so," says Don Catlin, a pharmacologist anddrug-testing pioneer who founded the UCLA Olympic Analytical Lab. "The public is pretty ho-hum. Butpeople aren't exactly ho-hum when Lance Armstrong is involved."Novitzky is picking the biggest fight of his life. "I think we're possibly looking at BALCO Part 2," says Victor Conte, the founder of BALCO, who pleaded guilty to steroid distribution in 2005. Novitzky, the bald, lanky, mysterious man who emerges from the shadows only to attend steroid hearings in Congressor the federal courtroom, actually grew up just a few miles from Conte's BALCO offices. The son of a highschool baseball coach, Novitzky excelled in sports, even clearing 7 ft. as a high school high jumper. Heplayed college basketball at San Jose State.Read cancer survivors' inspirational stories.See Walter Iooss' sports photos. A father of three girls, Novitzky is often described as a straightlaced grinder who is so dedicated to hisprofession that he has taken calls about his steroid investigations while driving his daughters to a Miley Cyrus concert. "I've always thought of government as a bunch of bumblers," says Catlin, who has advisedNovitzky on the science of performance-enhancing drugs. According to Catlin, Novitzky has mastered thematerial. "Novitzky is not a bumbler. He's the opposite of bumbler. He produces very serious, very scholarly work." According to his defenders, Novitzky's passion for sports drives his passion to bust the cheaters. "Jeff represents the millions of people who value sports for the good lessons it teaches," says Travis Tygart,chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. "What bothered him was that sports is supposed to bethis nice part of life," says Catlin. And the dopers were sullying sports. "He was incensed over that," saysCatlin.(See pictures of Lance Armstrong's career.)
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 A bit too incensed, according to his critics. One federal judge said Novitsky and other investigatorsshowed "callous disregard" for the Fourth Amendment (which protects citizens from unjustified searchand seizure) when they raided the lab that housed the results from baseball's 2003 steroid-testingprogram. Conte claimed that Novitzky misrepresented their conversations in written statements."Athletes cheat to win," says Conte. "And the government cheats to win too."Of course, Conte, who was sentenced to four months in prison and four more in home confinement because of Novitzky's enterprising work, is not unbiased. But given Novitzky's eight-years-and-countingcrusade against steroids — on the public dime — Conte brings up some very fair questions. "How can we justify this expenditure in tough economic times?" asks Conte. "Should this be a priority? This is going tocontinue to cost taxpayers a lot of money. Is this all in the best interest of the country?"How much have Novitzky's steroid investigations cost taxpayers? Neither the FDA nor the IRS wouldsay. "The money spent pales in comparison to the annual salary of one individual player who cheated thegame," says Tygart. No matter the exact figure, Novitzky's admirers say the government has made a worthwhile investment. "Something as culturally important as sports deserves inquiry," says Keane. "Wehave someone as idealized as Lance Armstrong, and if it turns out that he is 'Shoeless' Joe Jackson, Americans who look up to his accomplishments have a right to know."(See the top 10 disgracedathletes.)But even someone like Catlin, the UCLA scientist who has dedicated his professional career to fightingdoping — he identified the designer steroid produced by BALCO — cannot say with certainty that an Armstrong probe will cover its costs. "I've been down the road on these investigations," Catlin says."They are expensive, they go on and on, and when they finally conclude, the athletes get a slap on thehand." He cites the case of Tammy Thomas, a cyclist who received just six months in home confinementafter being convicted of lying to a BALCO grand jury. Troy Ellerman received the longest prisonsentence, 30 months, of anyone involved in the BALCO affair. The crime? He's a lawyer who waspunished for leaking grand-jury testimony to the media.Further, the prosecution's chances in the long-delayed Barry Bonds perjury trial took a huge hit in June, when the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that allegedly positive urine samples collected by Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, were not permissible as hearsay evidence. (Anderson has been jailed on contempt charges for refusing to testify against Bonds and vouch for the authenticity of thetests.) A case against Armstrong could prove even more difficult, since the government has no positive steroidtests from the cyclist (that we know of). "Like everyone else, I want to know the truth about Lance Armstrong," says Catlin. "But I'm not sure the truth can be known, no matter how many millions we putinto it." And if the truth is what Armstrong says it is, the U.S. will have wasted taxpayer money trying totake down one of its heroes.
Investigator Novitzky Pursues Lance Armstrong Steroid Claims -- Printout ...http://www.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,2005820,00.html3 of 424/07/2010 10:20

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