Former Racing Cyclist Asks Federal Judge for Dismissal of Whistleblower Lawsuit
Lance Armstrong and his attorneys on Tuesday, July 23rd, asked a federal judge to dismiss the $120 million whistleblower lawsuit against Armstrong and his former racing team. The whistleblower lawsuit accuses the 7-time Tour de France champion of defrauding the team’s sponsor, the US Postal Service.
In January of this year, Armstrong admitted that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win races. He was stripped of his 7 Tour de France wins, lost all of his major sponsorships, and was banned for life from racing in the Tour de France.
A former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis filed the whistleblower lawsuit in 2010, alleging that Armstrong and other cyclists defrauded the US government, through their sponsorship deal with the US Postal Service, by lying that they were taking performance-enhancing drugs.
In his rebuke of the whistleblower lawsuit, Armstrong claims that the postal service should have known that he and some of his teammates were doping. Allegations that Armstrong and others used performance-enhancing drugs have been in the news for years, but US officials “did nothing.” Armstrong’s sponsorship deal with the postal service began in 1995, and was continually renewed.
“Instead, the Postal Service renewed the Sponsorship Agreement,” Mr. Armstrong’s lawyers, John Keker and Elliot Peters of Keker & Van Nest, LLP, wrote, and “basked in the favorable publicity of its sponsorship.”
Armstrong’s attorneys highlighted benefits that the US Postal Service received as part of Armstrong’s fame and his sponsorship deal with them, including a “private hospitality tent” and invitations to special events with the team, “including exclusive dinners in Paris and invitations to the final night dinner” after the 21-day race ended in Paris.
Other accused persons in the whistleblower lawsuit include Armstrong’s team owner Thomas Weisel, the team’s manager Johan Bruyneel, and Armstrong’s agent Bill Stapleton. The three men also filed requests for dismissal of the whistleblower lawsuit on Tuesday.
Mr. Weisel’s lawyers contend that the accusations regarding his knowledge of the team’s doping are “tenuous,” and that the Postal Service contract did not specifically prohibit doping, and that payments weren’t “conditioned on riders on the team not doping.”
Mr. Armstrong’s attorneys also claimed, in their filing against the whistleblower lawsuit, that Landis’s suit was filed too late – just past the 6-year statute of limitations.
If found guilty of violating the False Claims Act, Armstrong and the other accused could be liable for as much as triple the amount of the sponsorship, which totaled $40 million between 1995 and 2004.
The Strom Law Firm Protects Whistleblowers in South Carolina
The False Claims Act, also known as the Whistle Blower Act or a qui tam action, is intended to encourage people to come forward with information and assist the government in stopping the waste of Government funds.
Common whistle blower actions include:
- Medicare fraud,
- defense contractor fraud, and
- other kinds of fraud.
To bring a qui tam action under the statute, an individual must have personal knowledge and actual evidence of fraud. Successful qui tam claimants will be rewarded a portion of the money the government recovers.
If you have direct knowledge of fraud against the government and believe you have a qui tam or whistleblower case, whether it is against a for-profit long term care facility, a technology corporation, or financial institution, the attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations so you can discuss the facts of your case with impunity. Contact us today. 803.252.4800