US government are to sue Lance Armstrong for defrauding taxpayer
Last Updated: 24/02/13 2:52pm
Lance Armstrong: Admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he took drugs
Lance Armstrong is being sued by the US government for effectively defrauding the taxpayer when he raced for the United States Postal Service team.
The team was funded by the government, and with talks between Armstrong's legal team and the US Department of Justice confirmed as having broken down, the disgraced Texan will now effectively be sued by his own country.
The Department of Justice has now joined a whistleblowing lawsuit filed by former team-mate Floyd Landis, who alleges that Armstrong defrauded the US government when it sponsored the Postal team.
The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act and provides for the recovery of three times the damages, plus penalties, and also includes the possibility of the whistle-blower sharing in any funds recovered.
The USPS sponsorship was from 1999 to 2004, with US dollars 31m paid between 2001 and 2004 alone, the Department of Justice said. The formal complaint will be filed within 60 days.
Ronald C. Machen Jr, US Attorney for the District of Columbia, said: "Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than US Dollars 30 million from the US Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules - including the rules against doping.
"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'.
"This lawsuit is designed to help the Postal Service recoup the tens of millions of dollars it paid out to the Tailwind cycling team based on years of broken promises.
"In today's economic climate, the US Postal Service is simply not in a position to allow Lance Armstrong or any of the other defendants to walk away with the tens of millions of dollars they illegitimately procured."
Armstrong recently admitted to chat show host Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs in each of his seven Tour de France victories.
In a statement Robert Luskin, counsel to Armstrong, confirmed: "Lance and his representatives worked constructively over these last weeks with federal lawyers to resolve this case fairly, but those talks failed because we disagree about whether the Postal Service was damaged.
"The Postal Services' own studies show that the Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship - benefits totalling more than $100m."