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Disgraced American rider & team face $120 million damages

Lance Armstrong’s legal team has moved that the US governments’ case against the rider and his former team should be dismissed because the US Postal Service got value from its sponsorship of Armstrong, and did not react to accusations of doping against him and the team at the time. Armstrong’s lawyers also argue that the statute of limitations on the offences has expired.

The Justice Department’s case centres on the accusation that Armstrong was “unjustly enriched” by using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France.

After years of denying drug use, Armstrong confessed in January to using steroids, blood manipulation and other banned methods.

In a motion submitted to the US District Court in Washington, Armstrong’s lawyers said the Postal Service got what it expected from the deal: tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity; exposure to more than 30 million spectators at international cycling events; and hundreds of hours of television coverage.

Everyone knew pro cyclists doped

Armstrong’s lawyers effectively argue that at the time, everyone knew professional cycling was rife with drug use and it was unreasonable to expect Armstrong’s team to be any different. In particular, they point to reports that the French authorities were looking into suspicions of doping by the team, which emerged in the weeks before the US Postal Service renewed the team’s sponsorship in 2000.

“Although the government now pretends to be aggrieved by these allegations, its actions at the time are far more telling,” says the motion
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“Did it suspend the team pending an investigation? Did it refer the matter to its phalanx of lawyers and investigators at the Department of Justice for review? It did not.

“Rather than exercise its right to terminate the sponsorship agreement, it instead renewed its contract to sponsor the team.

“The rationale behind the government’s decision is obvious. Armstrong had recently won the 2000 Tour de France. The government wanted a winner and all the publicity, exposure, and acclaim that goes along with being his sponsor. It got exactly what it bargained for.

“That was more than a decade ago. It is now far too late for the government to revisit its choice to reap the benefits of sponsorship rather than investigate allegations of doping.”

Whistle blower

The lawsuit gathered momentum earlier this year when the Justice Department joined former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis’ whistle-blower lawsuit against Armstrong. Under the United States’ False Claims Act, whistle-blowers can share with the government in any recovery of money based upon their disclosures. 

The lawsuit is based on the team’s contractual obligation that its riders would follow the rules of cycling, and the team’s repeated reassurances to the Postal Service that its riders were not doping.

The Postal Service funded Armstrong’s team to the tune of about $40 million between 1998 and 2004. Armstrong himself trousered about $18 million, according to the government’s complaint. If he loses, Armstrong faces triple damages that are determined at trial.

Gathering storm of lawsuits

Armstrong is currently fighting several lawsuits involving his career as a professional cyclist. Earlier this month a Texas judge refused his motion to dismiss a case brought by Acceptance Insurance, which paid his win bonuses for the 199-2001 Tour de France.

Armstrong is also being sued by SCA Promotions, which guaranteed his later Tour de France bonuses, and the Sunday Times, which settled a libel case out of court with Armstrong in 2006.

Armstrong’s total liability if all the suits find against him is estimated at $135 million dollars. His personal net worth is estimated at $125 million.

Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.

Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.

Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.

The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.

23 comments

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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This is real parallel universe stuff. Is "It's your fault for believing me, you should have known I was a liar" a legitimate defence?

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sneakerfrfeak [102 posts] 3 years ago
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You should have know i was cheating...but if you dared to suggest as much me and my team of lawyers would have been right up in your ass.

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Not KOM [79 posts] 3 years ago
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Dear Lance.

For the love of God, go quietly into the night now. Please. You've had your day.

Yours,
The entire cycling community.

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Luminosity [76 posts] 3 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:

This is real parallel universe stuff. Is "It's your fault for believing me, you should have known I was a liar" a legitimate defence?

In LanceWorld apparently yes!

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JeevesBath [174 posts] 3 years ago
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The Rumpo Kid wrote:

This is real parallel universe stuff. Is "It's your fault for believing me, you should have known I was a liar" a legitimate defence?

Legitimate or not, if you stand to lose $135 million dollars  20 , you're going to give it a go!

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graphite [66 posts] 3 years ago
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The guy's a sociopath - he has no idea what 'responsibility' means (or truth for that matter), nothing was ever his fault.

Lance, please just go away and don't come back.

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koko56 [330 posts] 3 years ago
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It's just an excuse to get the money back, cos really it sounds a legit argument that USPS got their value.

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Paul J [894 posts] 3 years ago
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It is a legitimate argument, not because it is a defence of itself, but because it matters greatly toward determining when the clock started on the time limitations in making a claim under the False Claims Act - which is 6 years at most. Lance's lawyers are arguing the government's claim is too late because:

a) The government's last paid claim was in June '04, more than the 6 years prior to Landis filing suit.

b) The date of discovery (from which the clock really starts) - the point where the claimant had sufficient information to have cause for their claim - was also more than 6 years ago, because there were already a number of allegations of doping against Lance prior to the last paid claim.

Lance and Bruyneel's lawyers' aren't arguing "you should have known", but "it's too late to claim under this act".

See here for the Armstrong motion to dismiss: http://www.scribd.com/doc/155635707/Armstrong-Motion-to-Dismiss

This matters a lot to Lance. He faces potential financial ruin if he loses this law suit. He may well succeed on the statute of limitations argument.

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workhard [397 posts] 3 years ago
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He will pay out million's in lawyers fees, won't pay anyone a red cent in compensation and will still be regards by many, Americans and others, as a hero.

Funny old life innit?

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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Paul J wrote:

It is a legitimate argument, not because it is a defence of itself, but because it matters greatly toward determining when the clock started on the time limitations in making a claim under the False Claims Act - which is 6 years at most. Lance's lawyers are arguing the government's claim is too late because:

a) The government's last paid claim was in June '04, more than the 6 years prior to Landis filing suit.

b) The date of discovery (from which the clock really starts) - the point where the claimant had sufficient information to have cause for their claim - was also more than 6 years ago, because there were already a number of allegations of doping against Lance prior to the last paid claim.

Lance and Bruyneel's lawyers' aren't arguing "you should have known", but "it's too late to claim under this act".

See here for the Armstrong motion to dismiss: http://www.scribd.com/doc/155635707/Armstrong-Motion-to-Dismiss

This matters a lot to Lance. He faces potential financial ruin if he loses this law suit. He may well succeed on the statute of limitations argument.

I thought the situation was the Government argues that Armstrongs "Fraudulent Concealment" of the facts, up to and including perjury, meant there could be no case at the time, as it would only be based on rumour. Armstrong's "You should have known I was lying" is his response to that position.

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Paul J [894 posts] 3 years ago
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Rumpo: Yeah, the government has to argue that the defendants obstructed discovery, and couldn't have had cause to sue otherwise, because that being true stops the clock on the time limitations. Armstrong's side of course will argue the converse.

If Armstrong's side can prevail on that point, then there simply is no case to answer, and they don't have to fight any of the other points.

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jaylamont [17 posts] 3 years ago
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Even if he looses, he will still be a millionaire. The guy has no respect for cycling and he has no shame in fighting in court, like a greedy little bastard, for money he should never have received. It's vulgar the way he still wears Livestrong branded clothing considering what Livestrong is supposed to mean.

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alun [45 posts] 3 years ago
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I would suspect that Armstrong has made efforts to put at least some of his wealth out of reach, in case he loses these cases. He's had plenty of warning!

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Paul J [894 posts] 3 years ago
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By some estimates, his peak net worth was not much more than, perhaps even less than the amount the US government are now seeking from him in damages ($100m to $150m versus $120m). So, if things went badly for him, he could be pretty much wiped out. He's already had to spend quite a bit on legal costs it seems, possibly millions. He sold off his Texas home (of the famous picture with him lying on the sofa under his jerseys) a while ago, and one wonders if that was cause he needed cash.

He's also got at least 2 other lawsuits coming up, including with SCA for circa $8 to $12 million. With that one I suspect he has 0 chance of arguing statute of limitations, because SCA actually did take action back in the day - but lost cause of his obstruction.

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onlyonediane [156 posts] 3 years ago
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I wonder how much damages one would receive for being naive and stupid for believing in his athletic ability? Probably more than a London Borough who can use section 58 of the Highway Act 1980 to avoid any payment! Bitter you bet!

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 3 years ago
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Lance, please crawl back under your rock, no ones interested in you anymore!  37

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tired old fart [77 posts] 3 years ago
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Just out of interest, what abut the OCC bike that was sold for charity a few years back? is Armstrong going to reimburse The OCC for their losses on the project?

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80sMatchbox [33 posts] 3 years ago
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Sadly, 3.9 million followers on Twitter suggests otherwise.

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jaylamont [17 posts] 3 years ago
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3.9 million twitter followers, but how many of them are actually "fans"? I reckon nearly half of them are journo's around the world? It's interesting to see who actually follows him if you look through his the list of followers you know.

The fact is Lance's assets have not been frozen. He is still free to sell property, gift money to relatives or hide it all in a Swiss bank account. It's unlikely he would be able to do this with all of his estimated $130gazzilion fortune, but he aint stupid and neither are his lawyers. He'll have tucked a tidy few million away just in case he has to give it all up.

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 3 years ago
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F***ing incredible, this guy seems hell bent on blaming everyone else apart from himself ...

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John Stevenson [251 posts] 3 years ago
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jaylamont wrote:

He'll have tucked a tidy few million away just in case he has to give it all up.

Someone better informed than me may be able to confirm this, but I seem to recall that once there are actions against you for damages, especially from the federal government, trying to do that can see you ending up in federal pound me in the ass prison for a long time.

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TeamCC [146 posts] 3 years ago
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Lawyers defense argument is brilliant, love their spin on it. Hope this gets reproduced on Law and Order as a fictional event. Anyways, they shouldn't be asking for the full amount back. Before he was stripped of his title, they got a lot of good association with Lance's wins. Sure he breached the contract but in fairness he did deliver a lot of value in terms of publicity. With this trial they are getting another round of publicity for free! what a deal!

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The Rumpo Kid [589 posts] 3 years ago
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TeamCC wrote:

Lawyers defense argument is brilliant, love their spin on it. Hope this gets reproduced on Law and Order as a fictional event. Anyways, they shouldn't be asking for the full amount back. Before he was stripped of his title, they got a lot of good association with Lance's wins. Sure he breached the contract but in fairness he did deliver a lot of value in terms of publicity. With this trial they are getting another round of publicity for free! what a deal!

If I were a Sponsor, and bearing in mind this is the USA, I'd be seeking damages as well as the money back, on the grounds that my brand name had now become "tainted by association". It's the American way!