Was the Lance Armstrong Doping Case Whitewashed by U.S. Attorney While Investigation Continued?
Friday, February 17, 2012
André Birotte Jr.
A federal prosecutor’s decision to drop the investigation of cyclist Lance Armstrong has raised more questions than answers, especially given the timing of the decision.
U.S. Attorney André Birotte Jr. announced that the 20-month probe was over on February 3, the Friday before the Super Bowl. As a general rule in the media world, Fridays are only good for making announcements if someone wants to bury a particular news item.
More importantly, Birotte began making plans for his announcement while federal law enforcement agencies were still interviewing witnesses as late as the day before and the day of the February 3 decision.
Not only was the investigation still underway, but prosecutors and agents working under Birotte were already inclined to indict Armstrong based on the information they had gathered. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that the cyclist was facing charges of mail fraud, drug distribution, money laundering and witness tampering before the case was closed.
Lester Munson at ESPN said it is possible White House politics may have played a role in Birotte’s unexpected move.
“With critics already ripping the prosecutions of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens as wastes of government resources, an indictment of Armstrong might have been a thorny issue for President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder as the nation heads to the polls in November,” wrote Munson.
On the same day that Birotte made his announcement, Armstrong himself announced that his foundation was donating $100,000 to Planned Parenthood to support New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s matching funds challenge.
To Learn More:
Officials Clashed on Armstrong (By Reed Albergotti and Vanessa O'Connell, Wall Street Journal)
End of Armstrong Case Raises Questions (by Bonnie Ford, ESPN)
Suspicious Call on Lance Armstrong (by Lester Munson, ESPN)
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