Lance Armstrong to testify under oath in $96m whistleblower case

Federal government files court papers in case originally brought by Floyd Landis

by Simon_MacMichael   June 7, 2014  

Lance Armstrong and Oprah Winfrey Photo by Maryse Alberti, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

Lance Armstrong is due to provide a deposition under oath in a lawsuit originally brought by his former team mate Floyd Landis alleging misuse of sponsorship money at their US Postal Service team that could see the United States government awarded up to $96 million in damages.

Last year, after Armstrong confessed to doping his way to seven Tour de France titles between 1998 and 2005, the Department of Justice joined Landis’s action, which had been initiated in 2010 under the False Claims Act, which relates to misuse of federal funds.

In papers filed with a court in Washington DC, prosecutors note that the US Postal Service sponsored Armstrong’s team, managed by Tailwind Sports, to the tune of $40 million from 1998 to 2004.

Due to a statute of limitations, not all of that money can be recovered, with proportion of the government’s losses at issue in the case quantified at $32 million, reports the New York Daily News.

However, the whistleblower legislation under which the lawsuit was brought allows the court to award damages of up to three times that amount, meaning that Armstrong could have to repay $96 million.

Meanwhile as the initiator of the action, Landis – himself stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping – would be entitled to up to 25 per cent of any money recovered.

In 2012, before the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced it was investigating Armstrong and others for doping at the US Postal team, federal investigators dropped a criminal investigation against him.

The USADA investigation resulted in 42-year-old being banned from sport for life and stripped of results including those seven Tour de France wins.

According to the New York Daily News, Armstrong, who is due to provide a deposition under oath next Thursday in the SCA Promotions case, is due to provide similar testimony in the federal case on 23 June.

In both cases, Armstrong’s lawyers have attempted to prevent him being required to provide such evidence, so far without success. Others due to give depositions include his former coach, Chris Carmichael.

Potential government witnesses whose names appear in court papers include former UCI presidents Hein Verbruggen and Pat McQuaid, past US Postal riders Landis, Frankie Andreu, Tyler Hamilton and George Hincapie, as well as Armstrong’s ex-wife Kristin and former girlfriend, the singer Sheryl Crow.