Lance Armstrong sued by government over sponsor money

Wed Apr 24, 2013 8:38am IST

Lance Armstrong, founder of the LIVESTRONG foundation, takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Lance Armstrong, founder of the LIVESTRONG foundation, takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 22, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

A statue of Ganesh, the deity of prosperity, is carried in a taxi to a place of worship on the first day of the ten-day-long Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai August 29, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Ganesh Chaturthi Festival

During Ganesh Chaturthi idols will be taken through the streets in a procession accompanied by dancing and singing, and will be immersed in a river or the sea in accordance with Hindu faith.  Slideshow 

(Reuters) - The U.S. government filed court documents Tuesday laying out its case against cyclist Lance Armstrong, who is accused of defrauding the Postal Service by taking millions of dollars in sponsorship money while flouting professional cycling rules by doping.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in February it would join a whistleblower lawsuit brought in 2010 by Armstrong's former teammate, Floyd Landis, and on Tuesday filed its formal complaint.

Armstrong has been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and was banned for life from cycling in 2012 after accusations he had cheated for years. In January, he said the accusations were true in an interview with television host Oprah Winfrey.

Armstrong and his teammates from Tailwind Sports were paid $40 million by the Postal Service from 1998 to 2004, according to the suit. Armstrong's salary during that time, excluding bonuses, was $17.9 million, according to the complaint.

The government is suing under the False Claims Act and can recoup up to three times the amount it lost as a result of the fraud. The complaint also alleges breach of contract, unjust enrichment and fraud.

An attorney for Armstrong said the complaint was opportunistic and insincere.

"The U.S. Postal Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship of the cycling team. The USPS was never the victim of fraud," said attorney Elliot Peters in a statement. "Lance Armstrong rode his heart out for the USPS team, and gave the brand tremendous exposure during the sponsorship years."

The complaint echoes Landis' claims that Armstrong and others defrauded the U.S. government by falsely denying the doping accusations and continuing their sponsorship relationship with the Postal Service.

When the government believes a suit has merit, it may take over the litigation. The individuals, or whistleblowers, get a portion of the proceeds if the case is successful.

The U.S. complaint accuses Armstrong of using at least one prohibited substance or method in connection with every Tour de France between 1999 and 2005. "Moreover, he knew that his teammates were engaged in similar doping practices, and he actively encouraged and facilitated those practices," the complaint said.

"(T)he United Stated suffered damage in that it did not receive the value of the services for which it bargained," the complaint said.

A lawyer for Landis, Paul Scott, said in statement that he was "pleased to see the United States take this important step toward recovering taxpayer dollars lost to fraud."

The case is U.S. ex rel Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corp, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, No. 10-976.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye in New York; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (2)
artvet2 wrote:
Paying these kinds of salaries to sports figures, actors, CEOs is disgusting and signs of how depraved our country has become. And we, the public, cheer them on!

Apr 24, 2013 5:19pm IST  --  Report as abuse
BlueOkie wrote:
Why not go after the pot smokers openingly breaking federal laws. Or go after the bankers who defrauded a country!

Apr 24, 2013 7:43pm IST  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Coal Block Allocation

Coal Block Allocation

Government urges Supreme Court to not cancel some 'illegal' coal mines  Full Article 

Modi in Japan

Modi in Japan

Japan and India agree to boost strategic ties at summit  Full Article 

HSBC PMI

HSBC PMI

Factory activity expands at slower clip in August.  Full Article 

Current Account

Current Account

Balance of payments surplus for third straight quarter  Full Article 

India Infrastructure

India Infrastructure

RBI rule handicaps India's infrastructure hopes  Full Article 

Book Talk

Book Talk

Reema Abbasi and a glimpse of Pakistan’s Hindu past  Full Article 

China Economy

China Economy

Retreat in China's PMIs heightens calls for policy easing.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage