Jeff Novitzky, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) Special Agent currently leading an investigation into alleged doping within professional cycling centred around Lance Armstrong, is reported to be visiting France’s anti-doping agency, the AFLD, this week.
The news has intensified speculation that last week’s raid by Italian law enforcement officials of the home of RadioShack rider Yaroslav Popovych may be linked to the ongoing enquiry in the United States.
Earlier this month, Popovych testified on penalty of perjury that he had never seen evidence of doping while riding for RadioShack, or previously at the Astana or Discovery Channel teams. The Ukrainian rode alongside Armstrong at all three teams.
According to an Associated Press report quoted on the CBS News website, an unnamed source has confirmed that a US delegation, said to include Novitzky, U.S. federal prosecutor Doug Miller, and Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency, have already arrived in France ahead of the meeting.
Pierre Brodry, until recently head of the AFLD, has previously said that the agency would be prepared to hand over samples of Armstrong’s urine collected during the 1999 edition of the Tour de France, which marked the first of the Texan’s seven overall victories in the race, if US investigators requested them.
In 2005, the French sports daily L’Equipe made allegations that traces of EPO had been found in urine samples taken from the then US Postal Service rider at the 1999 Tour, although world cycling’s governing body, the UCI, subsequently cleared Armstrong of any wrongdoing.
The seven times Tour de France champion has consistently denied allegations of using performance-enhancing substances.
However, he has come increasingly under the spotlight since Floyd Landis, stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping, publicly made detailed allegations in May this year of what he described as widespread doping within the USPS team when he rode for it, including against Armstrong himself.
Commenting on the prospect of investigators obtaining the 1999 samples, Mark Fabiani, counsel for Lance Armstrong, stated in an email to road.cc: "The samples were clean when originally provided and tested. So we have nothing to be concerned about. Period."
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.