The disgraced former Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong remains under active criminal investigation by US federal agents, according to the American broadcaster ABC News.
Although the US attorney for Southern California, André Birotte, said earlier this week that his own criminal inquiry into Armstrong would not be reopened, ABC News said federal investigators were still "actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation".
Birotte's inquiry was suddenly dropped a year ago after he had spent two years looking into allegations of drug distribution, fraud and conspiracy, paving the way for the United States Anti-Doping Agency's own investigation that led to Armstrong being banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Asked about the case earlier this week, Birotte said: "We made a decision on that case, I believe, a little over a year ago. Obviously we've been well aware of the statements that have been made by Mr Armstrong and other media reports. That has not changed my view at this time. Obviously we'll consider. We'll continue to look at the situation. But that hasn't changed our view as I stand here today."
But ABC News reported that high-level sources had told them the criminal investigation was still live under another jurisdiction and that Birotte would not necessarily be aware.
Armstrong has said he would be "first through the door" for any truth and reconciliation process set up by cycling's world governing body but the proposal has become mired in controversy after the UCI scrapped the independent commission it set up to look into the allegations contained in Usada's original report.
Usada gave Armstrong a deadline of 6 February to co-operate with investigators under oath or lose the opportunity to reduce his lifetime ban. Armstrong is believed to have said that he is unable to comply with the timescale set down by Usada.
Usada relented and gave him an additional two weeks to co-operate, news agencies have since reported.
Meanwhile a lawyer for Armstrong told USA Today that his client had no intention of repaying the $12m in bonuses that the insurance company SCA Promotions is trying to recover in the wake of his confession that he used performance enhancing substances throughout his career.
The company underwrote bonuses for his 2002, 2003 and 2004 victories and later attempted to recover the money through the courts. Armstrong insisted under oath in 2006 that he had never doped. SCA has said it will return to court to get its money back. Armstrong's lawyer, Tim Herman, told the newspaper: "My only point is no athlete ever, to my understanding, has ever gone back and paid back his compensation. Not [New Orleans Saints coach] Sean Payton or anybody else."Payton was banned from the NFL for the entire 2012-2013 football season for a "bounty" programme that paid bonuses for deliberately knocking opponents out of games.
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