U.S. lawsuit seeking $100 mln from Lance Armstrong heads to trial

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By Timothy Mclaughlin

<span class="articleLocation”>A federal judge on Monday cleared the way for a
U.S. government lawsuit seeking nearly $100 million in damages
from former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong to go to trial,
court papers showed.

The U.S. Justice Department has accused Armstrong of
defrauding the government by accepting millions of dollars in
sponsorship money from the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) as he led
the team to a string of Tour de France victories while doping.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour titles and banned
for life from bicycle racing in 2012 by the U.S. Anti-Doping
Agency after it accused him in a report of engineering one of
the most sophisticated doping schemes in sports.

Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman from the Department of Justice,
declined to comment on the case.

Eliot Peters, an attorney for Armstrong, did not respond to
a request for comment.

Armstrong, who had long denied using performance-enhancing
drugs (PEDs), admitted to doping in January 2013.

Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis, originally
brought the lawsuit in 2010 under a federal law, the False
Claims Act, that lets whistle-blowers pursue fraud cases on
behalf of the government, and obtain rewards if successful.

The Justice Department joined the case in February 2013. Armstrong, who contends that the USPS benefits outweighed the
sponsorship costs, sought to have the case decided by summary
judgment in April 2016.

“Because the government has offered evidence that Armstrong
withheld information about the team’s doping and use of PEDs and
that the anti-doping provisions of the sponsorship agreements
were material to USPS’s decision to continue the sponsorship and
make payments under the agreements, the Court must deny
Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment on this issue,” Judge
Christopher Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the District
of Columbia wrote in a 37-page ruling on Monday.

The USPS paid around $32.3 million to Armstrong’s cycling
team, the now-defunct Tailwind Sports Corp, from 2000 to 2004,
looking to capitalize on Armstrong’s Tour de France victories,
as well as his “compelling personal story,” Cooper said in his
ruling.

The government has calculated damages at three times this
amount. Landis stands to gain up to 25 percent of whatever sum
the government recovers.

Paul Scott, an attorney for Landis, said by email, “We look
forward to the day soon when we can put this case before the
jury at long last.”



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