Phonak cycling team member Floyd Landis of the US throws away a bottle after refreshing himself, as he rides up the Joux-Plane pass during the 17th stage of the 93rd Tour de France cycling race on July 20, 2006.
Former Tour de France cyclist Floyd Landis is being investigated for potentially fraudulent activities related to a legal defense fund he set up to fight doping charges after testing positive for performance-enhancing substances in 2006.
U-T San Diego first reported late Thursday that Landis confirmed he'd received a "target letter" from the U.S. Attorney's Office informing him of the federal probe -- a separate issue from the grand jury investigation into Lance Armstrong (Landis’ former teammate) and the U.S. Postal Service team, which was handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles and terminated without indictments in February.
Stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title following positive drug test results, Landis began raising money through the Floyd Fairness Fund -- bringing in approximately $1 million, according to ESPN -- in an effort to fight the charges and repair his reputation.
Three years later, he admitted to doping. Notes U-T San Diego:
According to a 2010 ESPN report, Landis in a letter wrote: “I am acutely aware that accepting money on a false premise and then later returning it does not erase the lie, and I’ll live with the fact that I lied to trusting people, but I want to live an honorable life and I hope that people will see this as a starting point toward that goal.”
In all, the Floyd Fairness Fund raised about $1 million, but only about $300,000 reportedly was raised publicly through town hall meetings and other events. The fund was not set up as a nonprofit organization, so contributions were not tax deductible and an accounting of how money was spent is not available through public tax returns.
The case against Landis is reporedly being pursued by Assistant U.S. Attorney Phil Halpern who heads San Diego's fraud division. Halpern also reportedly holds a racing license with USA Cycling, the national governing body for the sport.
Lisa Brenner can be reached via Twitter @lisa_brenner