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Judge tells "timewaster" Lance Armstrong to disclose information to government

Disgraced cyclist has week to respond to questions - or may not be able to rely on evidence in his defence

A US federal judge has rapped disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong for giving insufficient responses to government requests for information from him in the ongoing ‘whistleblower’ lawsuit originally brought against him by former US Postal Service team mate, Floyd Landis.

The Department of Justice joined the action, which alleges misuse of government money as a result of cash from US Postal’s sponsorship being used to finance the team’s doping programme, in 2013 after Armstrong confessed to cheating his way to seven consecutive Tour de France titles between 1999 and 2005.

USA Today reports that district judge Christopher Cooper told Armstrong on Friday that if he did not comply with requests for information within seven days, he faces having excluded from trial evidence that his lawyers say show that US Postal derived a huge financial benefit from its sponsorship.

The case is currently in a pre-trial discovery phase, and government lawyers had asked their opposite numbers working on Armstrong’s defence to provide further detail on that point.

But instead of answering the questions directly, his legal team instead made reference to documents including a report compiled on Armstrong’s behalf that claimed that the total $32.3 million US Postal paid in sponsorship translated into publicity and other benefits worth 10 times that amount.

“For years, Lance Armstrong has argued that the services he and his business partners sold to USPS for over $32 million actually were worth hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Department of Justice lawyers in papers filed in relation to the case.

“Armstrong asked the Court to find on summary judgment that those services were worth more than $160 million. But for over nine months, Armstrong has refused to respond to contention interrogatories seeking the identification of and factual basis for benefits he claims the USPS received from its sponsorship of Armstrong’s cycling team.

“Armstrong’s failure to answer these contention interrogatories prejudices the United States’ ability to oppose the motion for summary judgment and to present its theory of damages in this case,” they insisted.

In a written judgment delivered on Friday, Judge Cooper agreed. “Armstrong may not waste the government’s time by stating that responsive information `may’ be found in certain locations,” he wrote.

He also said that “Armstrong’s continued failure to comply with this discovery obligation places the government and the Court in an awkward procedural position,” and told the 44-year-old to “respond in full or risk exclusion of responsive but unidentified evidence at trial.”

Armstrong could face being ordered to pay damages of nearly $100 million – three times the amount of sponsorship money paid – if the case goes against him, and if that happens Landis would also be in for a bumper payday, receiving a percentage of any moneys recouped as the initiator of the action.

Meanwhile, the Denver Post reports that Armstrong will be back in the saddle again next month when for the second year running he leads the Aspen Gran Fondo, a 50-mile sportive in the Colorado resort where he has a home.

Simon joined 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.

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