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Lance Armstrong rides on as doping allegations fall by wayside

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Armstrong, meanwhile, was being investigated for possible crimes ranging from defrauding the government, drug trafficking, and conspiring with other cyclists to distribute the substances. The main thrust was to determine whether money from the US Postal Service, Armstrong's principal sponsor during his first four Tour de France wins, was used to buy the drugs.

Mr. Birotte, assisted by the same investigator – Jeff Novitzky of the Food and Drug Administration – who helped prepare the Bonds and Clemens cases, did not expressly state why the government was closing the Armstrong investigation.

“The United States Attorney determined that a public announcement concerning the closing of the investigation was warranted by numerous reports about the investigation in media outlets around the world,” Birotte said in a statement.

To be sure, critics say the decision is shocking given gripping testimony from close Armstrong associates, including allegations detailed by several former teammates in a “60 Minutes” report last May, that pointed to rampant doping by several teams associated with Armstrong, and testimony from fellow riders who claim they saw Armstrong use banned substances.

One of Armstrong's accusers, Betsy Andreu, told the Associated Press that the "legal system failed us."

But the problem for prosecutors is judging the strength of testimony with the mood of the potential jury pool. While finding Bonds guilty on one charge of obstructing justice, earning him 30 days of house arrest, the judge declared a mistrial on three charges, and the jury couldn't agree to convict on several more serious allegations that could've given Bonds jail time.

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