Justice Dept. May Sue Armstrong, Cycling Team Owners for Fraud

Justice Dept. May Sue Armstrong, Cycling Team Owners for Fraud

The United States Justice Department may join a federal whistleblower lawsuit and bring charges against Lance Armstrong–and others who received and profited from federal dollars used to sponsor his cycling teams–to get back some of the sponsorship funds under the Federal False Claims Act. 

The deadline for the Justice Department to join the suit, which was brought by Floyd Landis, a former teammate of Armstrong’s, is Thursday, the same day Armstrong’s interview with Oprah Winfrey in which he confessed to having doped throughout his cycling career, will air.

Financier Thomas Weisel may also be sued for fraud. 

Weisel, who has taken companies such as Amgen and Yahoo! public, is the chairman of “Tailwind Sports, the holding holding company for the U.S. Postal Service cycling team that Armstrong led to an unbroken string of seven victories in the Tour de France, from 1999 to 2005.”

As Bloomberg News notes, the U.S. Postal Service, an independent government agency, paid out $40 million in federal funds to sponsor Armstrong’s teams from 1996 to 2004. The Postal Service’s team management “promised in its contracts not to tolerate doping.”

According to a federal prosecutor, “the Major Fraud Investigations Division of the Postal Service’s Office of Inspector General” is trying to determine if Armstrong, who later gained a stake in Tailwind, Weisel, and others may have “defrauded the government by violating that no-doping clause.” 

Armstrong, according to reports, may be in talks to pay back some of the sponsorship money his cycling teams received to avoid going to court.