NEW YORK (AP) — American cyclist George Hincapie has been contacted by the lead investigator of a federal probe into doping in professional cycling, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

In a story published Saturday, the Journal reported a person familiar with the matter said Hincapie is “likely” to agree to talk to lead investigator Jeff Novitzky, a special agent with the Food and Drug Administration, when he returns to the United States after the Tour de France.

Zia F. Modabber, Hincapie’s attorney, confirmed to the newspaper that he had spoken with Novitzky but shared no details.

“My desire is to let George do his job with as few distractions as possible,” he told the Journal.

The federal doping investigation was spurred by allegations made by Floyd Landis in a series of e-mails sent to cycling and doping officials. Citing people familiar with the investigation, the Journal reported that the probe is aimed at possibly charging any team leaders who may have facilitated or encouraged doping by cyclists.

Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour title for doping, said the use of banned substances was common on the US Postal team when he rode with seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong and Hincapie on the squad.

Hincapie told The Associated Press on Tuesday that he was bothered by Landis’ allegations.

“It bothers me, because I’ve been doing this for 17 years and never heard anything bad about me,” Hincapie said.

“You can go ask any of the cleanest teams in the peloton — Jonathan Vaughters, Slipstream, Columbia. How many times they’ve offered me contracts and wanted me to ride for them because of my reputation, and because they have done the due diligence on me, and then you have someone attacking me.”

Hincapie’s current team said in an e-mail sent to The Associated Press on Saturday that neither he nor anyone associated with the squad would have anything more to say about the investigation.

“Now that the Tour de France is well under way, Mr. Hincapie and the rest of the BMC Racing Team are thoroughly focused on the race itself,” said BMC Racing spokesman Sean Weide. “Neither him, nor any other riders, managers or staff, will be commenting about anything other than the Tour for the next two weeks.”

American cyclist Tyler Hamilton, who rode with US Postal team from 1995 to 2001, said in an e-mail to the Journal that he is aware of the investigation and would cooperate if subpoenaed.

Armstrong has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs. He addressed the issue after finishing 16th in the seventh stage of the Tour de France on Saturday.

“Like I said the first time, it’s like a carton of sour milk: one sip and it’s bad, you don’t drink the whole thing,” Armstrong said. “I don’t need to keep taking sips of it. It’s bad. What do you want me to say … tell me if I missed something and I’ll respond.”

His lawyer reacted angrily to the latest developments.

“Garbage in — Garbage out,” Armstrong attorney Tim Herman said in an e-mailed statement. “The more appropriate investigation and use of taxpayer money would focus on the confessed fraud committed by Landis, an admitted perjurer with an agenda.”


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