Sources: Cyclist Wore A Wire In Lance Armstrong Doping Probe
December 20 / Matthew De George / SportsGrid
Floyd Landis’ personal crusade against doping in the world of cycling has taken a weird(er?) turn, with sources telling the New York Daily News that the disgraced cyclist donned a wire and hidden camera to gain information for federal investigators.
Landis allegedly did his best James Bond impersonation last spring when meeting with fashion designer and team owner Michael Ball at his apartment in California. During the meeting, Landis reportedly got evidence, including videotape, of human growth hormone and other doping paraphernalia in Ball’s refrigerator.
According to the Daily News report, the evidence influenced a secret grand jury to issue a search warrant for Ball’s apartment, executed by Food and Drug Administration agent Jeff Novitzky. Novitzky is the same man responsible for dismantling the doping rings constructed by BALCO founder Victor Conte and Mets’ trainer Kirk Radomski.
Ball, whose influence in the cycling world has waned recently with the bankruptcy of his fashion line and lack of results by his Rock Racing squad, hasn’t been formally charged, but he isn’t the main focus of the Landis-inspired inquiry.
If you could put aside the image of Landis in a trench coat with a video lapel pin and an unmarked surveillance van sitting outside Ball’s apartment, try to follow the chain of logic.
Landis is trying to gather information on Ball. Ball’s Rock Racing team once employed Frankie Andreu—a known sanctimonious Lance Armstrong doping accuser—and Tyler Hamilton. Hamilton raced with the Armstrong’s U.S. Postal Service team from 1995 to 2001, helping Lance win his first two Tour titles in 1999 and 2000. Hamilton, who was stripped of an Olympic gold medal for doping in 2004 in his post-USPS days only kept his 2004 Olympic gold after an appeal to strip him of the title failed, and was banned for eight years while with Rock in 2008, is apparently the evidence of systematic doping on Armstrong’s teams for decades.
I’m not sure where the wild goose fits into all this, but he’d better watch out. Landis probably has a hidden camera waiting for him too.