LOS ANGELES — By admitting to Oprah Winfrey that he doped during his professional cycling career, Lance Armstrong potentially opened himself up to a stream of litigation that could lighten his wallet for years.
And then there's the big question: Will his mea culpa result in the reopening of a criminal investigation by the U.S. government?
Some legal experts believe the disillusionment and anger now directed at Armstrong will force the government to re-examine its evidence in light of his admissions, but others say revisiting the criminal case is unlikely.
"There are no formal guidelines on reopening one, and the discretion is left to the prosecutor," said Matthew Levine, a former federal prosecutor and a white-collar defense attorney in New York. "But generally there's a lot of pressure not to reopen, especially where the declination has been made public. It does happen, but it's quite rare."
Last February, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles announced they were dropping their investigation into Armstrong. A federal grand jury heard testimony from the cyclist's former teammates and associates that could have helped prove Armstrong and some of his fellow cyclists violated federal conspiracy, fraud or racketeering charges.