Besides Novitzky's FDA investigation, Landis's allegations have sparked probes by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). But the most far-reaching investigation figures to be the FDA's, given the government's subpoena powers and the track record of Novitzky, whose A-list targets have included Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Marion Jones.
In the past, Novitzky's investigations of alleged PED use have resulted in criminal charges: bank fraud in the case of Jones, steroid distribution in the BALCO scandal. SI's sources say that the feds hope Landis and other witnesses can help them answer the following questions:
• First, was any federal money used to obtain controlled substances such as steroids and HGH? The U.S. Postal Service provided a reported $8 million to $10 million a year to cover the costs of its cycling team, which was managed and operated by Tailwind Sports, a company half-owned by Armstrong. Any details Landis can provide—including who allegedly supplied the team with PEDs—could help the government pursue drug-trafficking charges and create a money trail. In that April 30 e-mail to Johnson, Landis gave this description of an alleged encounter with Armstrong in August 2003: "I was instructed to go to Lances [sic] place by [USPS sports director] Johan Bruyneel and get some EPO from him. The first EPO I ever used was then handed me in the entry way to his building in full view of his then wife [Kristin]. It was Eprex by brand and it came in six pre measured syringes."
Landis's mention of Kristin Armstrong, who was divorced from Lance in 2004, raises the possibility that the feds will question her. But Kristin told SI in a text message, "I have not been contacted, nor am I in communication with Floyd or anyone else." As for Landis's claim that he received EPO in her presence, Kristin wrote, "I don't remember that."
• Second, who supplied the USPS team with doping supplies and illicit drugs, and how were those items transported and distributed? If such evidence is uncovered by the feds, Armstrong, as the de facto team boss, might run afoul of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a somewhat fungible federal statute used by prosecutors to go after a broad range of crimes—possibly, in this case, drug trafficking. Under RICO, the government usually must show that a defendant partook in an underlying illegal activity and engaged in a continuous and controlled pattern of organizing others to engage in that activity.
• As the boss Armstrong might also be vulnerable to prosecution if the feds find that he pressured any other USPS rider to use controlled substances. Although Landis says he was not pressured, in the April 30 e-mail he chronicled his progression up the ladder of PEDs under the alleged tutelage of Armstrong, Bruyneel and Dr. Michele Ferrari, a controversial medical adviser based in Italy. After starting with testosterone patches, Landis wrote, he moved on to blood doping, EPO and human growth hormone. He also said he received injections of a serum consisting of testosterone mixed with olive oil. (Ferrari could not be reached for comment.)
Besides forcefully denying all of Landis's allegations—or "incredible concoctions," as RadioShack's lawyers called them on the team's website—Armstrong, Bruyneel and the rest of the Texan's camp also questioned Landis's motives. They accused him of smearing Armstrong, Hincapie, Leipheimer and Zabriskie, among the Tour of California's most prominent riders, to punish race organizers for refusing to allow the OUCH-Bahati Foundation cycling team, which Landis joined in March, to participate in the race.
"We followed the Bahati team very carefully," says Andrew Messick, president of AEG Sports, which puts on the TOC, "and concluded that it didn't have a track record, and that it would be unfair, even inappropriate for us to invite [it]." Landis and his primary-care physician, Brent Kay, cofounder of the OUCH Sports Medical Center in Temecula, Calif., which cosponsors the team, allegedly informed Messick in an April 22 e-mail that if the Tour refused to invite the OUCH-Bahati squad to race, Kay might seek a refund of the $40,000 hospitality tent the foundation had purchased near the finish line of stage 7. Ultimately OUCH didn't back out, which enabled Landis to chill in the tent on Saturday, siphoning vast amounts of attention from a terrific race that was ultimately won, for the first time in four years, by someone other than Leipheimer. Michael Rogers, an Aussie riding for HTC-Columbia, beat Zabriskie by nine seconds.
Those seeking additional reasons for Landis's accusations had only to ask Armstrong's allies. Floyd was jealous of Lance, they said. Floyd was unhinged—not all there. Bruyneel and Armstrong claimed that Landis was so addled that in the April 30 e-mail to Steve Johnson, he'd confused the chronology of events. Landis accused Armstrong of testing positive for EPO at the 2002 Tour of Switzerland, "at which point he and Mr. Bruyneel flew to the UCI [Union Cycliste Internationale] headquarters and made a financial agreement with [then UCI president Hein Verbruggen] to keep the positive test hidden." (The UCI declared in a press release on May 20 that it "categorically rejects" Landis's allegation.) Lance & Co. pointed out that Armstrong didn't even race the Tour de Suisse that year, though he did in '01.
While Armstrong leaped on that mistake, he himself has been caught in inaccuracies. When a reporter asked him last Thursday if he'd ever paid any money to the UCI, he replied, "Absolutely not. No." But he has given money to the organization. While making a sworn deposition in a 2006 lawsuit, Armstrong was asked if he'd made "a contribution or donation to the UCI." He said, "I have, yeah." Armstrong struggled to recall the exact amount of his payment to his sport's governing body, estimating that it was "I think, $25,000." And why had he written the check? "To fund the fight against doping." In fact Armstrong sent the group $100,000, according to current UCI president Pat McQuaid, who confirmed the donation on Thursday while being interviewed on an Irish radio show.