Citing “years of broken promises,” federal prosecutors on Friday confirmed they’re putting the muscle of the U.S. Department of Justice behind a civil lawsuit accusing disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong of bilking the U.S. Postal Service of tens of millions of dollars.
The move follows a long federal investigation that failed to produce criminal charges against Mr. Armstrong, who reigned atop cycling only to recently admit after years of angry denials that he cheated by using banned substances.
The U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington joined the civil False Claims Act lawsuit accusing Mr. Armstrong, among others, of doping while and he and his cycling team were receiving tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship fees from the U.S. Postal Serve.
“Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30 million from the U.S. Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules — including the rules against doping,” said Ronald C. Machen Jr., U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.
“The Postal Service has now seen its sponsorship unfairly associated with what has been described as ‘the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.’”
Prosecutors pointed to Mr. Armstrong’s recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, where he’d contradicted years of denials about using banned substances and explained how he avoided getting caught.
The lawsuit was originally filed by former Armstrong teammate, Floyd Landis, who rode on the Postal Service sponsored cycling team from 2002 to 2004. If the case against Armstrong resulted in a big settlement or victory, Mr. Landis could share in the windfall under a provision in the False Claims Act that lets whistleblowers share in any recovery.
Prosecutors joined the Landis case against Armstrong and two other defendants, but not others named in the case.
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Jim McElhatton is an investigative reporter for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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