- Associated Press - Friday, January 14, 2011

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Studies commissioned by the United States Postal Service estimated the agency received at least three times the value of the $32 million spent sponsoring Lance Armstrong’s cycling teams during their heyday.

Obtained by The Associated Press, reports by a pair of marketing firms covering 2001-2004 state the USPS received $103.6 million in domestic value from sponsoring the Armstrong-led teams during his historic run of Tour de France wins from 1999 to 2005.

The studies estimated the value of the sponsorship increased yearly, beginning with USPS receiving roughly $18.5 million in value in 2001 and peaking at $34.6 million in 2004. The 2004 report noted that exposure, and value, increased in part because of the creation of Armstrong’s LiveStrong bracelets and his then-relationship with singer Sheryl Crow.

Records obtained by ESPN revealed that the postal service spent $32 million promoting Armstrong’s teams between 2001 and 2004. The website reported that the sponsorship paid between 60 percent to 65 percent of the Postal Service team’s total budget each year.

The sponsorship could become an issue in either a federal investigation into doping in professional cycling, or a federal whistleblower lawsuit that disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis has reportedly filed against Armstrong.

Landis has claimed Armstrong among others used performance-enhancing drugs, which — if found to be true — would have been a violation of their agreement with the Postal Service.

Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping, and his attorneys have said there never was any wrongdoing regarding the USPS sponsorship.

“Over the years, many different sponsors have seen — and continue to see — the benefits of associating with Lance and his cycling teams,” Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani said in a statement.

Several Armstrong teammates and associates have appeared before a grand jury in Los Angeles that has been investigating pro cycling for months, but no charges have been filed.

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