- Bonnie D. Ford, ESPN Senior Writer
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Lance Armstrong, girding himself as federal investigators continue to probe allegations of past performance-enhancing drug use by himself and other cyclists, has added veteran legal and communications strategist Mark Fabiani to his team.
Fabiani, a former White House special counsel who specializes in helping steer embattled politicians, companies and organizations through legal and public relations crises, told ESPN.com on Thursday that he began working with Armstrong informally in early July and will serve as a point person for media going forward.
The 53-year-old Fabiani joins Bryan Daly, a Los Angeles-based attorney and former federal prosecutor, and Tim Herman, Armstrong's longtime Dallas-based personal lawyer, as key members of a team that will attempt to keep Armstrong out of potential legal jeopardy and try to limit damage to the seven-time Tour de France winner's image.
Fabiani represented former President Bill Clinton and his wife, current Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, during the mid-1990s when the Whitewater land deal was one of several controversies dogging the couple. His role led Newsweek magazine, in a post-1996 election recap, to dub him the "Master of Disaster." The Pennsylvania native also served as deputy campaign manager for then-Vice President Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election and spearheaded communications during the subsequent Florida voting controversy. Fabiani later founded a public relations firm with Democratic political consultant Chris Lehane.
More recently, Fabiani has represented several high-profile clients including the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers -- then mired in a costly strike by the Writers Guild of America -- and the reputation-battered investment bank Goldman Sachs. As special counsel to the president of the San Diego Chargers since 2002, he has been heavily involved in the team's lengthy ongoing efforts to replace Qualcomm Stadium with a new facility.
Armstrong, long the subject of doping speculation and accusations during his career, and officials from his current and former teams came under intense scrutiny last spring when ex-teammate Floyd Landis went public with specific allegations against him and other riders. U.S. Food and Drug Administration investigator Jeff Novitzky, who also headed up the BALCO steroids probe, is leading the inquiry, which is being supported by Los Angeles-based federal prosecutor Doug Miller.
A grand jury has been empaneled in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California to hear evidence regarding possible doping and fraud charges. Subpoenas have been issued to individuals and corporations. Armstrong sponsors Nike and Trek and three-time Tour winner and outspoken Armstrong critic Greg LeMond were compelled to produce documents related to legal and business dealings with Armstrong, while former Armstrong teammate Tyler Hamilton was called to testify.
In an e-mail Thursday, Fabiani said: "We're prepared to deal forthrightly with the improper and misleading leaks that so far have unfortunately characterized this unfair, Floyd Landis-inspired inquiry."
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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