WASHINGTON, Sept 24, 2013 (AFP) – The US government fired back at Lance
Armstrong in a federal court filing after the doping-disgraced American
cyclist had asked for the dismissal of a civil fraud lawsuit against him.
Armstrong, who admitted taking performance-enhancing drugs to win the seven
Tour de France titles that were stripped from him, had argued that the
government, including his former team sponsor the US Postal Service, should
have known he was doping all along despite his lies denying it.
Armstrong also argued in a July request to dismiss that the US Postal
Service received the benefits attached to his victories for its $40 million
(29.7 million euros) sponsorship from 1998-2004, but the filings Monday in
response to Armstrong’s claims challenged those assertions.
“The government did not get a winner,” the government filing declared. “On
the contrary, it got a fraud and all of the publicity and exposure that goes
along with having sponsored a fraud. That is decidedly not what the government
“The United States should have an opportunity to recover damages for the
money that it paid in reliance on Armstrong’s many lies.”
Armstrong, who confessed his doping last January in a televised interview
with Oprah Winfrey, pulled off “arguably the greatest fraud in the history of
professional sports,” according to the government filing.
“Now that he is being called to account for the damage he caused, Armstrong
contends that his deceit should have been clear to everyone all along… But
the Postal Service, like millions of others, cannot be faulted for having been
deceived by Armstrong.”
The original case against Armstrong was brought in 2010 by former Armstrong
teammate Floyd Landis, himself a disgraced US rider who was stripped of a Tour
de France title and later admitted doping.
Under whistleblower laws, Landis would receive a portion of the damages if
the government, which joined his case in February, is successful.
With potential triple damages to be recovered under the False Claims Act,
Armstrong could be hit for $120 million if he loses the case.
The government also contended that statute of limitations issues were not
in play since violations could have taken place within 10 years before the
original Landis filing.
Five fraud lawsuits were filed against Armstrong, including one by
Acceptance Insurance Company seeking $3 million in bonus money paid for
Armstrong’s Tour wins from 1999-2001.
Armstrong made a filing Monday asking the federal court to combine the
depositions so Armstrong and other witnesses in the cases are not subjected to
similar questions about his doping five times or more.
“Deposing each of the witnesses five times about the same conduct — much
of which occurred over a decade ago — is likely to lead to harassment,”
Armstrong’s lawyers wrote in their request.
“Given the passage of time since the alleged doping, plaintiffs could turn
the depositions into a treasure hunt for inconsistencies in decaying memories
of ancient events.”