The UCI today confirmed that the United States anti-doping agency has opened an investigation into the Landis accusations. Named in the UCI press release are Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Jim Ochowicz, and David Zabriskie. The UCI has also requested inquiries from the national federations of Matthew White, Johan Bruyneel, Michael Barry, and John Lelangue. According to media reports today, the Belgian federation is evaluating the information, but has not yet opened an investigation.
The full significance of these moves is as yet unclear. Much depends on what evidence becomes available to investigators in these cases and exactly how detailed the information Landis has provided actually is. According to recent media reports, U.S. investigators are in the early stages of building a possible case against Armstrong. That investigation may or may not yield actual criminal charges. As of now, the investigation is focused on possible fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud on the part of Armstrong.
Much also depends on the wording of the contracts for each of the riders involved. In some cases, the teams may have broad-reaching prerogatives to suspend their riders from racing after the anti-doping authorities officially open a case. We saw this pattern in the recent cases of Mauro Santambrogio and Alessandro Ballan at BMC Racing. It's too soon to say what decisions the teams involved here will make.
Text of the UCI press release and a few good reads, below the fold.
Press Release Text:
Press release - Allegations by Floyd Landis: the UCI requests inquiries
The International Cycling Union (UCI) has confirmed that it yesterday morning requested the relevant National Federations to carry out inquiries of the accusations made by Mr Floyd Landis against their licence-holders, namely Cycling Australia (Matthew White), Royal Belgian Cycling League (Johan Bruyneel), Canadian Cycling Association (Michael Barry) and the French Cycling Federation (John Lelangue).
An enquiry has also already been opened by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) concerning all the other individuals accused by Mr Landis as these persons have US nationality (Lance Armstrong, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Jim Ochowicz and David Zabriskie).
The UCI's request is aimed at establishing, in an objective manner, whether or not events potentially constituting a breach of the Anti-Doping Rules occurred. This does not in any way imply that the UCI considers the allegations made by Mr Landis to have any basis.
UCI Press Service
New York Times, possibility of fraud charges
Sports Illustrated, overview and background on Jeff Novitzky
Cycling Weekly, the problem of the UCI investigating itself
Cycling Weekly, Wednesday Comment, SCA case connection
Transcript from Bonnie Ford's Landis interview Right side bar has a nice list of links on the story, too.
MacGregor column, The Want of Truth, ESPN
Also, Ford explains how EPO masks blood doping