Whistleblower Anti-Doping Lawsuit Against Lance Armstrong Takes Aggressive Turn
The anti-doping whistleblower lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, filed by former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis, has gone from battle to all-out war.
Landis’s attorneys have invoked the Wartime Suspension of Limitations Act in order for the whistleblower lawsuit to keep moving forward in federal court. Prosecution argues that, because the US was at war with Afghanistan around the time of Armstrong’s alleged fraud, the normal whistleblower statute of limitations does not apply to this anti-doping case. Cycling might have nothing to do with American military hostilities, but the invocation might allow the prosecution to go back further in time in order for the whistleblower suit to collect more damages against Armstrong – to the tune of $7 million in additional damages for Landis.
If there is no statute of limitations on the whistleblower suit, then rather than going back to 2010, the whistleblower suit could span as far as 2001, when the US was attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists.
“It is a highly controversial provision of the False Claims Act,” said Tony Anikeeff, an attorney who specializes in similar cases for the firm Williams Mullen. “It is used by the Justice Department mostly in dealing with fraud in Afghanistan because we were at war. The theory behind it is that when you’re in the fog of war, the government cannot be spending time to root out fraud and that it needs time after the war to pick up the pieces.”
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.
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 has asked a federal judge to dismiss the whistleblower lawsuit, but it appears as though Landis and his attorneys will use other means to make the former cycling champion pay.
“If there’s no statute of limitations, they can reach back as far as they want, and get as much money scooped into the pot as possible,” said Jason Workmaster, an attorney who specializes in similar cases for the firm McKenna Long & Aldridge.
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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