Lance Armstrong to argue US government should have known about doping on USPS team

Disgraced cyclists prepares his defence in Landis whistleblower case after US government joins action

by Simon_MacMichael   February 26, 2013  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

Lance Armstrong is reportedly planning to claim that the US government should have known that doping was being practised on the former US Postal Service cycling team as he prepares his defence to the whistleblower action originally brought by former team mate Floyd Landis, which the government last week confirmed it was joining.

The disgraced cyclist, last year banned for life and stripped of results including the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005, also aims to argue that with US Postal’s sponsporship ending in 2004, the case is subject to a six-year statute of limitations, reports USA Today.

Armstrong aggressively denied allegations of doping throughout his career, finally confessing to having used performance enhancing drugs during the period he dominated the Tour de France in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey last month.

According to a source connected to Armstrong who insisted on remaining anonymous, Armstrong’s lawyers will say that the government was aware of doping on the US Postal team, or should have been aware of it, and took no steps to prevent it.

"We will say there was enough information [regarding doping on the team] to put you on notice, and you should have filed a false claim before," the source said.

The stakes are high. Up until 2004, US Postal paid some $31 million dollars to sponsor the team, and under the False Claims Act the action has been brought under, up to three times that amount could have to be paid back.

As the person who initiated the action, Landis stands to gain 25 per cent or more of any sum recovered.

When the government confirmed last week that it was joining the action, Stuart Delery, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the civil division of the Department of Justice, said that Armstrong and others had "knowingly" broken their "contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules" by doping.

He added: "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."

Tony Anikeeff, a lawyer with no connection to the case but who handles this type of case told the newspaper: "The law is that if the government knew of the fraud, you can't prosecute someone for fraud."

He said he believes the government’s tack “will be that he denied it vociferously for years and kept them in the dark," but says that the statute of limitations is a problem the government will need to overcome.

With Landis having filed his lawsuit in 2010, if the statute of limitations were strictly applied, it would at most apply only to 2004.

Anikeeff believes the government will argue that the six-year limitation does not apply because of the way Armstrong and others sought to conceal their conspiracy.

That, in turn, provides the explanation for why Armstrong’s defence team will seek to argue that the government should have known about doping on the team.

When it announced its decision in the Armstrong case last October, the United States Anti Doping Agency said that it would not apply the eight-year statute of limitations that applies under the World Anti-Doping Code because of the element of conspiracy in the case.

Other issues that may be argued include that Armstrong had no contractual relationship with the US Postal Service itself, with the government agency’s sponsorship contract being with the team’s management company, Tailwind Sports.

21 user comments

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Is he for real?

posted by northstar [1107 posts]
26th February 2013 - 14:07

2 Likes

"You can't punish me for it now, because I was denying it and throwing so many sueballs around for years that it should have been obvious that I was a lying, cheating, sociopathic prick - duh!"

@Northstar - no, apparently not! Surprise Big Grin

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3289 posts]
26th February 2013 - 14:33

1 Like

shameless. What a bell end.

posted by andyp [941 posts]
26th February 2013 - 14:48

2 Likes

What about Brunyeel, Hamilton, Ferrari, Hincapie, Andreu....? Especially as some of them were at it before Lance even arrived at USPS!

Lance deserves to be made to pay back his ill-gotten gains, but so do the rest of the dopers. If Lance defrauded US government then the whole team did.

I can't see them winning the case though. Lance never made any claims, false or otherwise directly to USPS and Tailwind reportedly didn't specify riding clean in the contract. Never mind the statute of limitations, his "everyone was at it" argument does actually work here to some extent - no-one is going to believe USPS didn't have any suspicions at least.

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
26th February 2013 - 15:00

3 Likes

Those who have followed the career of Lance Armstrong will not be surprised to learn he is now employing a Chewbacca Defense. It is totally in character: a cheat in sports is hardly likely to play fair in the rest of life. Besides, the American legal system is so screwed up these days, it'll probably work.

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
26th February 2013 - 15:41

1 Like

Priceless.

I do feel some "sympathy" for Lance and his stance that he is being made the scapegoat. Sadly the reason for the majority of that his how he behaved does behave. When you are a bully those you have picked on will be awaiting your fall with anticipation.

But can't he see that as the others are now being held up as virtuous by (finally) admitting fully there misdeeds that he is only harming himself by not going the whole hog.

It is very hard (for me anyway) to take either side in this. LA deserves what he gets but don't now tell me that Tyler/Floyd etc are paragons of virtue.

No one is coming out of this well.

bikeandy61's picture

posted by bikeandy61 [391 posts]
26th February 2013 - 15:49

2 Likes

Based on this Train of thought, I reckon "DaveO" from the Aussie Fireball stunt story needs to take some responsibility as well. In fact I think we all should, God I'm disgusted with myself, what have we, ALL, done to this beautiful sport? Poor Lance.

posted by Dog72 [108 posts]
26th February 2013 - 15:56

2 Likes

the man is a complete FW! Not my fault - they should have stopped me. What an Ar5e!

Rupert

posted by Rupert49 [38 posts]
26th February 2013 - 17:29

3 Likes

You don't expect him to mount a defense ? I suppose you'd all just write a $90 million cheque ? Get a grip, he hasn't come up with this himself, it's what his lawyers think is his best chance at keep the cash.

Can't believe LAndis stands to land 25%, who says cheats never prosper ?

Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [188 posts]
26th February 2013 - 19:29

2 Likes

This is the story that just keeps giving. It's very entertaining, almost as good as watching the Tour itself.

posted by crazy-legs [528 posts]
26th February 2013 - 21:50

2 Likes

Totally bizarre. "I'm innocent because you should have known how guilty I was". Is this the opening gambit of what will ultimately be a defence of "Not guilty by reason of insanity"?

posted by The Rumpo Kid [590 posts]
26th February 2013 - 23:34

2 Likes

crazy-legs wrote:
This is the story that just keeps giving. It's very entertaining, almost as good as watching the Tour itself.

All that's missing is Cav steaming into the courtroom on the final day at the head of the peloton. Which wouldn't surprise me at all, the way this story's been going...

Thinking

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8206 posts]
27th February 2013 - 0:03

2 Likes

We're constantly hearing of America's love of guns, semi automatics, etc ..

Will someone please just shoot this hateful, sociopathic C••T and put him out of our misery already!!

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [301 posts]
27th February 2013 - 9:35

2 Likes

what an absolute twat

posted by Karbon Kev [680 posts]
27th February 2013 - 13:06

2 Likes

When a rat gets cornered it will do anything to escape.

Armstrong is in the corner. His lawyer Herman is looking more of an idiot everytime he opens his mouth.

Will enjoy how they slowly make Armstrong into a poor person.

I also hope all the others invloved in this, Wesiel, Stapleton, Knaggs, Ochowiz, Burke etc all get their posteriors well and truly kicked and kicked hard!

posted by Decster [246 posts]
27th February 2013 - 13:12

2 Likes

phax71 wrote:
We're constantly hearing of America's love of guns, semi automatics, etc ..

Will someone please just shoot this hateful, sociopathic C••T and put him out of our misery already!!

You want somebody shot because they cheated in a bike race ? Really ??

Scott Spark 910 - Boardman Team Carbon - Planet X XLS

posted by colinth [188 posts]
27th February 2013 - 13:13

2 Likes

colinth wrote:
You don't expect him to mount a defense ? I suppose you'd all just write a $90 million cheque ? Get a grip, he hasn't come up with this himself, it's what his lawyers think is his best chance at keep the cash.

Can't believe LAndis stands to land 25%, who says cheats never prosper ?

Nobody. Lance has certainly prospered to the tune of probably several hundred million bucks. And he's a cheat.

CraigS - please, just stop denying what has been established and batting on Lance's side because you liked, and maybe still do like, him. Many of us have liked seeing him ride at some point (over the field, falling off with the bag in the handlebar incident etc). But he's a cheat, bully, fraudster, misogynist, embezzler, all-round shyster. He WAS the USPS team. He was a magnificent planner, organiser, operator of a doping machine. He did it better than anybody. So it is about him. The others were bit players apart from Ferrari, who was the pharmaceutical brains of course. And you've seen the USPS sponsorship contract? It permitted him to ride doped? Anything that's against the law - as doping was then (although not in Spain but that's another shitty part of the the picture) - isn't allowed if it isn't mentioned in a contract. And as for Lance never claimed directly about not doping, jeez, you really are clutching at straws.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
27th February 2013 - 14:29

2 Likes

I don't like him at all but that doesn't mean I think all the other cheats should be forgotten and allowed to get away with it or even to profit further from it.

I'm not defending him at all, a lot of comments here are missing the point. He isn't being sued for doping, he's being sued for making false claims to gain access to federal funds. There's a big difference legally and only the former has been established as fact, the first hurdle for the prosecution will be to prove he did actually make a false claim directly to USPS.

I'd like to see them take every penny but his defence has a good chance of standing up in court for this specific case.

CraigS's picture

posted by CraigS [135 posts]
27th February 2013 - 14:54

2 Likes

This is the US government going after him - the Novitsky case was pulled for political purposes, we know, but that's not relevant now the election's over and he's 'fessed up, albeit partially. So the main argument here is going to be the statute of limitations, not whether of not the claim is a good one (which it will be for public policy reasons).

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
27th February 2013 - 15:17

1 Like

That bloke's living knob-cheese.

minnellium's picture

posted by minnellium [79 posts]
27th February 2013 - 20:22

1 Like

As an American cyclist and fan of sport cycling, I am appalled at the total lack of morals this wanker has. We here in America, are throughly disgusted with LA and those that participated with him in their fraudulent charade of a "cycling team." He, along with the other cheats at USPS, deserve jail time.

Michael R. Smith

posted by American tifosi [37 posts]
28th February 2013 - 1:35

1 Like