The lawyers for disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong argued in federal court on Tuesday that a federal False Claims Act suit against Armstrong should be dismissed because the United States Postal Service should have been aware he was using performance-enhancing drugs.
As the Wall Street Journal noted, Armstrong “said the Postal Service should have known that he was doping.”
Armstrong admitted in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January that he had doped to win all seven of his Tour de France titles. He has been stripped of his titles and sponsorships and is banned from the sport. The Postal Service sponsored Armstrong from 1995-2004, and Armstrong’s lawyers argued USPS officials did nothing and renewed their sponsorship. The USPS did so on the condition that Armstrong–or any of its riders–not use “performance-enhancing drugs.”
Former teammate Floyd Landis sued Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act and, if successful, can receive as much as one-third of the $120 million dollars the government can potentially recover under law. The Act allows individuals to “sue for alleged fraud against the government.” The U.S. Postal Service invested nearly $40 million on Armstrong and the government, under the Act, can recover triple the amount of the sponsorship. Armstrong’s lawyers also argued Landis did not meet the statute of limitations in filing his suit.
Armstrong’s lawyers highlighted the various benefits the Postal Service received from its association with Armstrong, including lavish dinners and brand recognition while Armstrong was winning Tour de France titles.
The Justice Department ultimately joined the suit with Landis last February.