Legal teams representing the US Government and Lance Armstrong are reportedly in a state of stalemate in the ‘whistleblower’ case that could ultimately cost the former US Postal Service rider up to $100 million.
Each side is accusing the other of dragging its heels over progressing the case and of holding back crucial evidence, reports USA Today.
Last year, the Department of Justice joined the case, originally brought by Armstromg’s former team mate Floyd Landis under the False Claims Act alleging misuse of federal funds.
The lawsuit alleges that more than $30 million in sponsorship money provided by the government owned US Postal Service was used to finance the doping programme that in 2012 led to Armstrong being banned from sport for life and stripped of results including his seven Tour de France victories.
But according to USA Today, citing papers lodged in court, lawyers acting for Armstrong claim that the government is holding back evidence that would show that US Postal Service did not in fact suffer any damage through the Texan’s doping.
Instead they say that it obtained a benefit from backing the team during the first six editions of the Tour de France that he won.
Meanwhile, attorneys for the government insist that lawyers acting for the former pro cyclist are not releasing records relating to his doping, or email correspondence with persons aware of his doping and who helped cover it up.
Government lawyers claim that in a conference call on 31 October, they asked Armstrong’s legal team for emails exchanged by him with Thom Weisel, one of the backers of team owner Tailwind Sports.
During the call, one of Armstrong’s lawyers. Sharif Jacobs, asked the government to supply ‘search terms’ to help negotiate a database containing 3.5 million records to which the defence team had been granted access.
According to a transcript of the call, he said: “Our position – and I repeat it for the record – is we need a set of search terms from the government. Why don't you send them over so we can consider them?"
Government lawyer David Finkelstein replied: “That is repetitious, because I just said our search term is Mr. Weisel's email address. You said, `I'm not going to run that unless you limit it further.' Have I mischaracterized your position?"
Jacob responded that the search term, on its own, was too wide.
Both sides agreed that they had reached an “impasse.”
Court documents reveal Jacob as saying: "The government is withholding from production evidence that will prove beyond a doubt that it has not suffered any damages and that US Postal’s sponsorship of the team had "yielded the holy grail of marketing: new cash revenue."
He insists databases that track revenue would prove this, but added “the government continues to delay production without justification.”
USA Today adds that Judge Christopher Cooper will next week attempt to negotiate a way forward between the opposing parties during a conference call next week.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.