Arguing that only someone in government could have leaked key details to the media about a grand injury investigation into his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs, seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is asking the U.S. District of Los Angeles to order FBI agents to discuss their contacts with the media.
The law requires that details of grand jury investigations remain secret prior to an indictment and authorized disclosure in the run-up to a trial.
“The leaker in this case has, from the beginning, acted with the obvious intent of legitimizing the government’s investigation of a national hero, best known for his role in the fight against cancer,” the court papers said. “Each leak has been designed to propagate public support for this investigation by smearing Armstrong and tarnishing his reputation. The tactical nature of these leaks cannot be ignored as it strongly suggests an underlying partisanship inherent in government agents.”
Armstrong’s lawyers accused The Associated Press, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated and CBS’ “60 Minutes” of reporting illegally leaked information.
Lou Ferrara, the Associated Press managing editor for sports, said, “The AP has been aggressive in covering this important story. AP reporters will continue to pursue the truth. This action will not stop us.”
Filed by the same California-based lawyers who represented the Major League Baseball Players Association and succeeded in having the government’s seizure of player drug tests and records declared illegal, the request for an order to show cause asks a federal court to require that all agents involved in the probe provide sworn statements detailing their contacts with media.
The filing has 17 references to Jeff Novitzky, a Food and Drug Administration special agent who, in his prior job as an IRS special agent, ran the investigation into the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). That probe led to the seizure of the baseball drug list and the indictment of home run king Barry Bonds. A prosecutor, Doug Miller, is named in the filing but no other agent. Armstrong’s lawyers say the leaker was “potentially Novitzky himself.”
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