AS THE CYCLIST AND CANCER CRUSADER FACES POSSIBLE INDICTMENT BY A GRAND JURY, SI TAKES A CLOSE LOOK AT OLD AND NEW ALLEGATIONS THAT HE USED PERFORMANCE-ENHANCING DRUGS WHILE WINNING TOUR DE FRANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Around 8 p.m.on Nov. 11, 2010, Italian police and customs officials acting at the behest of agents of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pulled over Yaroslav Popovych as he drove on a roundabout in Quarrata, a quaint Tuscan village of stucco facades and colorful shutters between Pistoia and Florence. The officials had been looking for Popovych, one of Lance Armstrong's Radio Shack teammates, to execute a search warrant. Italian authorities say the Ukrainian cyclist was startled but cooperative. He led them through olive groves to his house beside a cemetery. There the officials found drug-testing documents, medical supplies and performance-enhancing drugs. They also found e-mails and texts that, they say, establish that as recently as 2009 Armstrong's team had links to controversial Italian physician Michele Ferrari, with whom the Texan had said he cut ties in 2004.
This new evidence is now part of the FDA's investigation, directed by agent Jeff Novitzky, into whether Armstrong was involved in an organized doping operation as a member of the team sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), an independent agency of the federal government. In light of this criminal inquiry involving the greatest Tour de France rider of all time, SI reviewed hundreds of pages of documents and interviewed dozens of sources in Europe, New Zealand and the U.S. Because the case could potentially involve accusations that are more than a decade old, SI also examined doping allegations against Armstrong throughout his career as a pro cyclist, discovering information that is reported here for the first time.