Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Lance Armstrong Could See New Defendant Added
In the whistleblower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, brought forth by the US government and Floyd Landis in 2010, the judge could add a new defendant.
For the first time, Armstrong has accused his team’s former owner Tom Wiesel of having direct knowledge that the team used illegal performance-enhancing drugs. This makes him culpable in the whistleblower lawsuit, and puts him in line to pay some of the restitutions for defrauding the US government.
Armstrong’s documents were filed in November, when Judge Robert L. Wilkins heard arguments in a Washington court related to the case, and said that he might dismiss some of the defendants from the lawsuit. Reportedly, the documents filed by Armstrong’s attorneys stated, “Mr. Weisel was aware of doping by the USPS Team and in professional cycling in general … Armstrong said his belief is ‘based on, inter alia, the following information: in early 1997, the year before Armstrong joined the USPS team, under Weisel’s management, the team doctor was fired and Dr. Pedro Celaya and Jonny Weltz were hired to make sure the USPS team qualified for the Tour de France … Scott Mercier and Tyler Hamilton described Weisel’s conscious decision to implement a program on the USPS team in order to successfully compete with other elite European teams, virtually all of which had similar doping programmes.”
Documents filed in December from another defendant also implicate Wiesel in the whistleblower lawsuit.
“In early December 2013, Tyler Hamilton indicated to Mr. Landis he was so certain that Thomas Weisel knew and approved of the USPS team doping program that he would ‘tattoo it on his arm.’ Among other bases for his believe, Mr. Hamilton has stated to relator Landis that Gorski worked very closely with Mr. Weisel in managing the team, and that Gorski had made statements to Mr. Hamilton reflecting his awareness of doping on the USPS team as early as the late 1990s.”
Landis sued Armstrong for fraud in 2010, using the False Claims Act as a whistleblower for the federal government. Armstrong was sponsored by the US Postal Service during many of his Tour de France wins, and he claimed the entire time that he was not using performance-enhancing drugs. Finally, during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January of this year, Armstrong broke down and admitted that he had used performance enhancers while cycling on behalf of the US government, with US taxpayer dollars.
Landis has also admitted previously to using performance enhancing drugs himself.
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