2018-04-19 16:31:04
Lance Armstrong Settles Federal Fraud Case for $5 Million

16:31, April 19 118 0

Lance Armstrong agreed on Thursday to pay $5 million to settle claims that he defrauded the federal government by using performance-enhancing drugs when the United States Postal Service sponsored his cycling team, according to Elliot Peters, Armstrong’s lead lawyer in the case.

The settlement ended years of legal wrangling between Armstrong and the government over whether the Postal Service had actually sustained harm because of Armstrong’s doping.

After years of vehement denials, Armstrong admitted in 2013 that he had used banned substances while winning a record seven Tour de France titles from 1999 to 2005. He wore a Postal Service jersey during the first six of those victories, but he was stripped of all his Tour titles in 2012 after an investigation by the United States Antidoping Agency determined that he and many of his teammates had been doping.

“We’ve had exactly the same view of this case forever, which was that it was a bogus case because the Postal Service was never harmed,” Peters said in a telephone interview.

He added that the Postal Service had previously boasted that sponsoring Armstrong’s cycling team for $32.3 million was a marketing boon. That was the value of the second deal between the Postal Service and the team. The contract, unlike its predecessor, contained an antidoping clause.

If he had lost in court, Armstrong faced the possibility of paying treble damages under the terms of the False Claims Act, which is aimed at recovering government money obtained by fraud. The government was asking for nearly $100 million.

The settlement averted a trial scheduled to begin with jury selection in less than two weeks in Federal District Court in Washington. Government prosecutors and Armstrong were not immediately available for comment.

The prospect of losing his fortune had loomed over Armstrong, 46, since the case was filed in 2010. It was the most daunting of his legal woes, by far, and the settlement appeared to end a gantlet of litigation that has dogged him since he confessed.

Floyd Landis, a former teammate of Armstrong’s, was the original plaintiff in the case, acting as a whistle-blower with a chance to receive a share of any money recovered by the government.

The government chose to join the case after Armstrong’s confession in 2013, and the Postal Service claimed it would not have sponsored the team if it had known Armstrong was doping.

Landis, who also doped during his cycling career and was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title, will receive $1.1 million of the government’s $5 million, Peters said. In addition to the $5 million settlement, Armstrong will pay $1.65 million to cover Landis’s legal costs, Peters said.

The government considered pursuing criminal fraud charges against Armstrong almost a year before he confessed, but it dropped the case.

“The Postal Service and Landis had sought $100 million in damages from Lance, but in light of several significant court rulings rejecting and limiting the plaintiffs’ damages theories, the case today settled for $5 million, plus an additional amount to pay attorneys’ fees to Landis’ lawyer,” Peters said in a statement. “Lance is delighted to put this behind him.”