Lance Armstrong Faces More Doping Questions In New 'Sports Illustrated' Story
On newsstands today, the magazine says that dozens of interviews and hundreds of pages of documents have turned up evidence that Armstrong used drugs, including the blood-boosting drug EPO, before and during his run of seven Tour wins. The story also alleges that he encouraged members of his cycling teams to participate in doping.
Armstrong has denied the allegations, repeatedly declaring that he has never taken performance-enhancing drugs.
Currently riding in Australia's Tour Down Under, Armstrong told reporters Wednesday that he had perused the SI story and that he had "nothing to worry about on any level."
A federal grand jury has also put Armstrong in the spotlight recently, as the AP reports:
"A U.S. federal grand jury in Los Angeles has been hearing evidence for months on cheating in professional cycling. The investigation turned toward Armstrong and several of his associates have testified before the panel since ex-teammate Floyd Landis accused the seven-time Tour de France winner of systematic doping."
Armstrong's run of Tour titles made him one the highest paid cyclists during his championship years. ESPN The Magazine's Shaun Assael recently reported that a Freedom of Information Act request has finally shed light on amounts paid to Armstrong's Tailwind Sports team by the United States Postal Service during its time as a sponsor.
The documents show Tailwind was paid $31.9 million from 2001 to 2004, approximately 60-65 percent of the team's total budget. Assael says:
"The materials provide the first clear look at how heavily the agency invested in Armstrong and reveal the exact dollar amounts at issue should Armstrong and former team officials be charged with fraudulent use of government funds at the conclusion of an ongoing federal investigation."
While questions and allegations continue to dog Armstrong, he and his associates continue to proclaim his innocence. Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani told the AP that the Sports Illustrated report is "old news from the same old, discredited sources."