US Federal Government joins Floyd Landis whistleblower case against Lance Armstrong

Action could result in multimillion dollar payout for Armstrong... and multimillion dollar payday for Landis

by Simon_MacMichael   February 22, 2013  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

The United States Federal Government has decided to join the whistleblower lawsuit brought by Floyd Landis against Lance Armstrong and others connected with the former US Postal Service cycling team. Official confirmation came this evening, shortly after a Wall Street Journal report, that the US Department of Justice  has joined the action against Armstrong, former US Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel and the team's management company, Tailwind Sports.

According to the Department of Justice, Armstrong and others "knowingly" broke their "contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules" through the use of performance enhancing substances.

"The Postal Service contract with Tailwind required the team to enter cycling races, wear the Postal Service logo, and follow the rules banning performance enhancing substances – rules that Lance Armstrong has now admitted he violated," commented Stuart Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Department of Justice.

The amounts at stake dwarf those that Armstrong may have to repay in relation to separate lawsuits brought by The Sunday Times and SCA Promotions, each seeking repayment of seven figure sums paid to the disgraced cyclist in 2006 after he sued them.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Armstrong and others named in the whistleblower lawsuit could have to repay up to three times the $31 million the team received in sponsorship from the US Postal Service from 1999 to 2004.

Armstrong won the Tour de France in each of those years, as well as in 2005 when the team was sponsored by Discovery Channel, but was last year stripped of all those victories and banned for life.

Yesterday, the Huffington Post reported that United States Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart had been lobbying Attorney General Eric Holder to have the Department of Justice join Landis’s lawsuit.

Tygart reportedly told the Attorney General that USADA’s investigation into the US Postal team had uncovered evidence of fraud relating to federal funds.

The website also reported that one of the reasons for Armstrong’s decision, announced this week, not to make a formal confession of doping to USADA was because it was unable to provide guarantees relating to any potential federal action.

Armstrong and other members of the US Postal team were previously the subject of a federal investigation shelved in February last year.

Earlier this month, however, federal sources confirmed that they are now investigating him in relation to potential charges including obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation.

Landis brought his whistleblower action in September 2010 under the False Claims Act, which incentivises those with knowledge of fraudulent activities to bring an action on the government’s behalf.

Former US Postal rider Landis, who would go on to win the Tour de France with Phonak in 2006 only to be stripped of the title after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone, eventually confessed to doping in May 2010 after years of denial.

Should his whistleblower lawsuit result in the government recovering any money, Landis would be entitled to a percentage of it.

At the time Landis filed the lawsuit, Armstrong’s spokesman Mark Fabiani said: “This news that Floyd Landis is in this for the money reconfirms everything we all knew about Landis,” describing him as “a serial liar, an epic cheater and a swindler.”

Fabiani added: “What remains a complete mystery is why the government would devote a penny of the taxpayers’ money to help Floyd Landis further his vile, cheating ambitions.”

13 user comments

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Wait, who is paying out to whom?

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 19:21

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It is about time the department of justice took up the mantle on this and expose LA as the serial cheat he is. They were starting to look a little ineffective in light of all the evidence to support a solid case ans sully the good name of the US postal service in this debacle. They should be entitled to all their money back because they acted in good faith, Landis on the other hand should recieve only an appropriate amount for initiating the action and no windfall. In any event, they will need forensic accountants to track the money because I say it is long gone in some off shore account. We will finally see the head of the snake cut off, So deserved for a bully and serial liar Thinking

posted by Seoige [104 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 19:23

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Dear Armstrong's spokesman. STFU and concentrate on your own 'man'.

posted by andyp [807 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 19:59

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andyp wrote:
Dear Armstrong's spokesman. STFU and concentrate on your own 'man'.

+1

posted by SevenHills [144 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 20:06

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His spokesman has a point. Landis was one of the dirty guys pushing clean riders out of the sport but has made a fortune from book sales and potentially this lawsuit.

He was just as bad as Lance and denied it for years until he saw he could cash in. Lance shouldn't be allowed to keep the profits of doping, but Landis and his secret twin are just as vile and don't deserve a penny.

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 21:17

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CraigS wrote:
His spokesman has a point. Landis was one of the dirty guys pushing clean riders out of the sport but has made a fortune from book sales and potentially this lawsuit.

He was just as bad as Lance and denied it for years until he saw he could cash in. Lance shouldn't be allowed to keep the profits of doping, but Landis and his secret twin are just as vile and don't deserve a penny.

Quite agree! Landis (nearly) as bad as Armstrong and I certainly won't pay for his book!

posted by Alan Tullett [1434 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 21:29

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'He was just as bad as Lance'

Not by a long way.
No fan of his, and would love him to end up with nothing, but to suggest he was anywhere near on a par with Armstrong is ridiculous.

posted by andyp [807 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 23:10

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andyp wrote:
'He was just as bad as Lance'

Not by a long way.
No fan of his, and would love him to end up with nothing, but to suggest he was anywhere near on a par with Armstrong is ridiculous.

Completely agree. LA needs to hire some new lawyers though - you can't intimidate the US govt with this sort of playground bullying.

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [210 posts]
22nd February 2013 - 23:45

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andyp wrote:
'He was just as bad as Lance'

Not by a long way.
No fan of his, and would love him to end up with nothing, but to suggest he was anywhere near on a par with Armstrong is ridiculous.

EPO, transfusions, HGH, testosterone... he was just as juiced up, he just didnt get the same palmares.

The Floyd Fairness Fund and the secret twin show he's a lying scumbag and did whatever he had to do to keep the secret - he would have gone to the same lengths as Lance had he needed to.

As David Millar put it in 2010: "If [Landis] had stood up and manned up four years ago, he'd be racing the Tour de France now. He'd have a different book out. He'd have not lost a penny. He'd be admired by young people. He would have a different life ahead of him..."

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 11:36

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EPO, transfusions, HGH, testosterone... he was just as juiced up, he just didnt get the same palmares.

nor did he bully, intimidate, perjure or scam people out of millions.

posted by andyp [807 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 12:16

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.

The Floyd Fairness Fund and the secret twin show he's a lying scumbag and did whatever he had to do to keep the secret - he would have gone to the same lengths as Lance had he needed to.

I think it was Hamilton who claimed the conjoined twin. I don't dislike Landis. I don't dislike Hamilton. Both of them were caught up in drug taking of the nineties. Armstrong is a different case. Not being caught and dominating the sport while taking drugs would mean that going forward the Tour, UCI and pro-cycling were effectively powerless to drug cheats of the highest order. This action means they are not. There are lots of sub-plots to this as well, the legal actions (abuse of the law), intimidating witnesses, fraud and lying under oath.

Landis is in comparison a hapless boob who got it wrong. But decided to do the right thing. He could have walked away and shut up, Armstrong would have got away with it all, but now he won't. I thank Hamilton and Landis for this. It shows that actually, despite it being compromised, they have some integrity.

People talk about the money, but in their ill-advised defences both racked up legal fees which virtually ruined them. A hard place to be after all their endeavour. Hamilton's book royalties will likely only give him a bit of a cushion. Compare that to the multi-millions that Armstrong has reaped from endorsements and victories.

I am happy that the federal government in the US have finally picked up the mantle.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [1086 posts]
23rd February 2013 - 13:47

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Landis didn't decide to do the right until Armstrong refused to give him a job on the Astana team. Vengeance seems to be his motivation as much as anything else. However, if it takes dopers settling scores with each other to take them down, I'm all for that. Landis is indeed no hero though.

posted by Paul J [561 posts]
24th February 2013 - 8:39

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Hmm, I didn't make the comment earlier this page seems to show me as making. I made another comment. Has something gone wrong with the HTML on this page?

posted by Paul J [561 posts]
24th February 2013 - 8:42

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