April 19 (UPI) — Cyclist Lance Armstrong agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit saying he defrauded the federal government by doping while competing for a cycling team sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.
Armstrong reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in the $100 million case in an agreement announced Thursday, ending the final legal action against Armstrong following his admission that used performance enhancing drugs during his cycling career.
“No one is above the law,” Justice Department attorney Chad A. Readler said. “A competitor who intentionally uses illegal PEDs not only deceives fellow competitors and fans, but also sponsors, who help make sporting competitions possible. This settlement demonstrates that those who cheat the government will be held accountable.”
Armstrong also agreed to pay $1.65 million to cover legal costs for Floyd Landis, one of his former teammates who was the original plaintiff in the case and acted as a whistleblower.
Landis will receive $1.1 million of the $5 million Armstrong was ordered to pay the federal government in the case.
“It has been a difficult ordeal, and public opinion was not always on my side,” Landis said. “But it was the right thing to do and I am hopeful that some positive changes for cycling and sport in general will be the result.”
Armstrong admitted to using banned substances in 2013 and was subsequently stripped of all seven of his Tour de France victories in 2012 and banned by cycling’s leading authority for life.
The Postal Service argued it wouldn’t have sponsored the team if it had known Armstrong was doping, but Armstrong’s lead attorney, Elliot Peters argued the Postal Service had boasted that sponsoring Armstrong’s cycling team for $32.3 million was a marketing boon.
“We’ve had exactly the same view of this case forever, which was that it was a bogus case because the Postal Service was never harmed,” Peters said.
If he lost in court, Armstrong faced the possibility of paying treble damages of nearly $100 million to the government under the terms of the False Claims Act, which seeks to recover government money obtained by fraud.
“I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life,” Armstrong said. “I’m looking forward to devoting myself to the many great things in my life — my five kids, my wife, my podcast, several exciting writing and film projects, my work as a cancer survivor, and my passion for sports and competition. There is a lot to look forward to.”