February 26, 2013 – Things are going from bad to worse for former U.S. pro cyclist Lance Armstrong with the U.S. federal government now joining a whistle-blower lawsuit initiated by Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis.
“Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30m from the US Postal Service (USPS) based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules – including the rules against doping,” said Ronald C Machen Jr, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. “”The Postal Service has now seen its sponsorship unfairly associated with what has been described as ‘the most sophisticated, professionalised, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen’.”
All this follows in the aftermath of Armstrong’s high profile confession to doping while being interviewed by Oprah Winfrey on January 17. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) had hoped that Armstrong would then cooperate and give more details, including names of those also implicated, about his doping and gave him an extended deadline until Feb. 20 to do so.
Armstrong’s lawyers responded that, “For several reasons, Lance will not participate in USADA’s efforts to selectively conduct American prosecutions that only demonize selected individuals while failing to address the 95 percent of the sport over which USADA has no jurisdiction.” They also indicated that Armstrong would cooperate only with, “an international tribunal formed to comprehensively address pro cycling, an almost exclusively European sport.”
Armstrong’s lawyers also contend that there were no damages to USPS, noting that, “The Postal Services’ own studies show that the Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship – benefits totalling more than $100m.”
Quite interestingly, a recent New York Times article speculated on Armstrong’s motives (that he seeks a reduced ban from Olympic sports) but noted that its sources did not want to reveal their names “for fear of retribution.” This suggests that Armstrong still retains considerable power in this unfolding saga.
The US Postal Service sponsored Armstrong’s team between 1996 and 2004 whereas the seven consecutive tours where Armstrong finished first were from 1999-2005. It is unclear at this point what the timetable is for the lawsuit against Armstrong proceeding.
New York Times HERE.