United States government closer to clawing $100M from Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong

A federal court on Monday ruled that a civil lawsuit brought by the USA government against Lance Armstrong will move forward.

The Landis lawsuit would be the biggest by far, and the ruling from U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington was a major setback for Armstrong with a trial most likely in the fall.

The lawsuit began in 2010 when former teammate Floyd Landis sued Armstrong, former team manager Johan Bruyneel and Armstrong's management company Tailwind Sports in Federal Court under the False Claims Act.

But Armstrong was stripped of his titles and banned from competition in 2012 when the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency leveled accusations that Armstrong was orchestrating a widespread doping scheme.

Armstrong attempted to have the "whistleblower" case thrown out, arguing that the benefit to the US Postal Service in terms of exposure outweighed the money it gave the team through sponsorship.

In 2013, Armstrong confessed to knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs during an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

Armstrong had asked for the case to be dismissed on the grounds that USPS did benefit from their sponsorship deal despite the doping scandal.

Cooper agreed with evidence that the USPS "received substantial benefits as a direct result of the sponsorship", citing internal USPS communications and valuation studies by third parties.


Elliot R. Peters, lead attorney for Armstrong, said "as the Court's opinion reveals, there is no actual evidence of any quantifiable financial harm to the USPS".

Armstrong was said to have run "the most sophisticated doping scheme in sport" by the United States anti-doping agency.

Armstrong conceded in 2013 that he had used performance enhancing drugs as a rider despite years of strenuous denials in the face of persistent rumors.

On Monday, a federal judge opened the door for a government lawsuit to peddle its way to trial.

The government's action is seeking $100 million in damages, about triple the cost of the Postal Service sponsorship. Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory for doping, as well.

The government has calculated damages at three times this amount.

Landis, himself a former Tour victor caught cheating, would be entitled to up to 25 percent of any money recovered.

Of course, Landis' attorney Paul D. Scott said he was "delighted" to see the case move toward trial.

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