(ABC News)–Facing a federal criminal investigation
and a deadline tonight to tell all under oath to anti-doping
authorities or lose his last chance at reducing his lifetime sporting
ban, Lance Armstrong now may cooperate.
His apparent 11th-hour about-face, according to the U.S. Anti Doping
Agency (USADA), means he now might testify under oath and give full
details to USADA of how he cheated for so long.
“We have been in communication with Mr. Armstrong and his
representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the
solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling,”
USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said in a written statement this evening. “We
have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on
details to hopefully allow for this to happen.”
The news of Armstrong's unexpected cooperation came a day after ABC News
reported he was in the crosshairs of federal criminal investigators.
According to a high-level source, “agents are actively investigating
Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation” for
allegedly threatening people who dared tell the truth about his
The case was re-ignited by Armstrong's confession last month to Oprah Winfrey that he doped his way to all seven of his Tour de France
titles, telling Winfrey he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout
his career and then lied about it. He made the confession after years of
vehement denials that he cheated.
If charges are ultimately filed, the consequences of “serious potential
crimes” could be severe, ABC News legal analyst Dan Abrams said –
including “possible sentences up to five, 10 years.”
Investigators are not concerned with the drug use, but Armstrong's
behavior in trying to maintain his secret by allegedly threatening and
interfering with potential witnesses.
Armstrong was previously under a separate federal investigation that
reportedly looked at drug distribution, conspiracy and fraud allegations
— but that case was dropped without explanation a year ago. Sources at
the time said that agents had recommended an indictment and could not
understand why the case was suddenly dropped.
“There were plenty of people, even within federal law enforcement, who
felt like he was getting preferential treatment,” said T.J. Quinn, an
investigative reporter with ESPN.
The pressures against Armstrong today are immense and include civil claims that could cost him tens of millions of dollars.
Armstrong is currently serving a lifetime ban in sport handed down by
the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, and today was the deadline he was given to
cooperate under oath if he ever wanted the ban lifted.
Copyright 2013 by ABC News