Lance Armstrong Denies Link to Doping-Tied Company -- Registered to Armstrong Address

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Matt Smith illustration
Doping Investigation Gaining on Armstrong
Lance Armstrong today distanced himself from a federal doping fraud investigation by claiming he had no ties to the San Francisco company set up to own and manage the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team, the New York Times reports. 

However, SF Weekly has learned that Tailwind Sports was registered with the California Secretary of State as being located in 2002 at the same Austin, Texas address as the Armstrong-linked company Capital Sports and Entertainment. Tailwind Sports' registered location has also been used as a mailing address for Armstrong's Austin bicycle shop, Mello Johnny's.

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California Secretary of State
Tailwind Sports used Lance Armstrong's Austin Business Address (click on image for larger version)
The company, Tailwind Sports Corp., 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.

It wasn't my company," Armstrong was quoted as saying. "I can't make it clear enough to you. I don't know. I didn't know the company. I didn't have a position. I didn't have an equity stake. I didn't have a profit stake. I didn't have a seat on the board. I was a rider on the team. I can't be any clearer than that." 

Armstrong's statement marks the first time he's attempted to deny business links to Weisel, despite the fact these links have been asserted repeatedly in the press -- for years. The Armstrong-linked Capital Sports and Entertainment ​boasts on its own website of a key role in the U.S. Postal Service sponsorship arrangement. According to The Times,

For years, Armstrong was reported to be among the owners of Tailwind Sports. The company was founded by Thom Weisel, the owner of a San Francisco-based financial services company and a major donor to USA Cycling. Armstrong's lawyer, Bill Stapleton, and others in Armstrong's circle reportedly also gained equity in the team over the years.

However, Armstrong said for the first time today, reports that he was connected to the San Francisco company were false.

"We took over running the team in '04," Armstrong said of the Austin-based company Capital Sports & Entertainment, which, he said, gained equity in the team in 2007. The two leaders of that company are Stapleton, a former vice president of the United States Olympic Committee, and Bart Knaggs, a former president of Tailwind Sports. Both are longtime Armstrong associates.

In his ghostwritten book Capital Instincts: Life as an Entrepreneur, Financier, and Athlete, Weisel boasts of launching, and being the largest investor in Tailwind Sports, a sponsorship vehicle for Armstrong's team. He does not specify, however, who the other investors are.


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Excerpt from book

One way or another, Armstrong's statement seemed to have a bit of a rats-jumping-from-a-ship flavor, as it suggests that the star cyclist shouldn't be held liable for any possible defrauding of the U.S. government by Tailwind Sports. His long time patron Thom Weisel should.

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