US Government To Sue Lance Armstrong

The US government has joined a lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, who was banned for life from cycling and stripped of his seven Tour de France wins, after talks with his lawyers broke down. This was after Armstrong said he will not agree to be interviewed under oath by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The disgraced cyclist admitted to using performance enhancing drugs during all of his Tour wins. Filed by his former teammate Floyd Landis, the lawsuit aims to recover sponsorship money from the 41-year-old cyclist. During his interview with chat show host Oprah Winfrey in front of a worldwide television audience, Lance said he made those decisions, they were his mistake and he was there to say sorry. The cyclist went on to remark that he did not fear getting caught and he did not feel he was cheating at the time and viewed it as a “level playing field.” He also admitted that he received a backdated therapeutic user exemption certificate for a cream containing steroids at the 1999 Tour to ensure he did not test positive.

Ronald C Machen Jr, US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30m from the US Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules – including the rules against doping and the Postal Service has now seen its sponsorship unfairly associated with what has been described as ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised, and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen.’ Machen added that this lawsuit is designed to help the Postal Service recoup the tens of millions of dollars it paid out based on years of broken promises and the Postal Service, in today’s economic climate, is simply not in a position to allow Lance Armstrong or any of the other defendants to walk away with the tens of millions of dollars they illegitimately procured.

The cyclist won seven Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005 and the US Postal Service sponsored the team between 1996 and 2004.

The legal team of Lance Armstrong had tried to convince the US government not to join the so-called ‘whistleblowing’ lawsuit filed by Landis. Armstrong’s counsel Robert Luskin remarked Lance and his representatives worked constructively over these last weeks with federal lawyers to resolve this case fairly, but those talks failed because we disagree about whether the Postal Service was damaged and the own studies of the Postal Services show that the Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship – benefits totalling more than $100m.

It is alleged by the lawsuit that Armstrong and other riders on the postal service-sponsored team knowingly violated their postal service agreements by regularly using banned substances and methods to enhance their performance. Landis, by flagging up fraud allegations, could receive a substantial share of any money recovered from Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act. This law, introduced by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, stipulates the person bringing the lawsuit can receive 15-25% of any damages.

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