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Friday, August 20, 2010

Lance Armstrong Hires Bill Clinton Whitewater Attorney Mark Fabiani

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2010 at 1:11 PM

I'd better have someone look after that pain in my ass... - MATT SMITH
  • Matt Smith
  • I'd better have someone look after that pain in my ass...
Lance Armstrong has further lawyered up in the face of possible federal doping allegations by adding former Bill Clinton Whitewater counsel Mark Fabiani to his burgeoning legal team.

Fabiani specializes in steering scandal-plagued politicians and corporate executives through public relations crises. The Wall Street Journal and ESPN report that Fabiani will be Armstrong's doping fraud allegation point person going forward.

Armstrong's most recent acknowledgment that federal investigator Jeff Novitzky has cramped the legendary cyclist's comfort level came on Bastille Day, when he denied ties to Tailwind Sports, the San Francisco company set up to own and manage the U.S. Postal Service Cycling team. The possibility of such ties is crucial, and may occupy much of Fabiani's time if the investigation into allegations Armstrong and his teammates systematically cheated by doping should bear fruit.

Tailwind received and spent tens of millions of dollars in U.S. government sponsorship money under contracts that included language prohibiting team management from tolerating doping. If management encouraged doping without the knowledge of government paymasters, Tailwind owners may have committed financial fraud, legal experts have told SF Weekly. Armstrong's statement puts the onus of purported financial fraud against the U.S. government on Tailwind's majority owner, San Francisco financier Thom Weisel.

Armstrong isn't the only one hiring white-shoe counsel. According to the Journal, ex-Armstrong teammate George Hincapie has hired New York firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz. Hincapie -- who rides for the BMC Cycling Team managed by an ex-Weisel employee, Jim Ochowicz -- was accused by former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis of participating in systematic doping while at U.S. Postal.

click to enlarge What lawyer hasn't Lance Armstrong hired at this point? - DENNIS BUDD
  • Dennis Budd
  • What lawyer hasn't Lance Armstrong hired at this point?

Armstrong, who presides over a labyrinth of for-profit and non-profit entities linked to his cancer-survivor advocacy, sports-brand endorsements, and his own cycling career, has long surrounded himself with lawyers. Austin attorney Timothy Herman, who to this point had been speaking for Armstrong with respect to the federal inquiry, in 2006 represented Tailwind Sports in litigation. In that case, the San Francisco company attempted to recoup sponsorship dollars from the Berry Group, whose subsidiary had co-backed the Postal Service team.

More recently, Fabiani has represented several high-profile clients including the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers -- then mired in a costly strike by the Writers Guild of America -- and the reputation-battered investment bank Goldman Sachs. As special counsel to the president of the San Diego Chargers since 2002, he has been heavily involved in the team's lengthy ongoing efforts to replace Qualcomm Stadium with a new facility.

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