Armstrong attorneys clash with Feds over Weisel emails

Whistleblower suit delayed by legal wrangling

The federal whistleblower lawsuit initiated by Floyd Landis in 2010 against Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team management has hit a road block with attorneys from Armstrong and the government disagreeing over disclosing information.

Armstrong's attorneys are attempting to block the government's request to gain access to emails between Armstrong and former team owner, Thom Weisel, which could prove that Weisel knew about the doping. They simultaneously accused the government of withholding information that could show the US Postal Service itself was not damaged by the doping to which Armstrong confessed happened during the time they sponsored the team.

The government would not need to prove damages in order to win the case, it need only prove that the team knowingly misrepresented itself to the government in making the contract with the US Postal Service.

According to USA Today, Armstrong's attorneys wished to limit the request for the email exchanges with Weisel to a specific search term, but the government lawyers want all correspondence to and from Weisel.

"Our position -- and I repeat it for the record -- is we need a set of search terms from the government," Armstrong attorney Sharif Jacob said in a court transcript. "Why don't you send them over so we can consider them?"

David Finkelstein, the government attorney replied, "I just said our search term is Mr. Weisel's email address. You said, 'I'm not going to run that unless you limit it further.' Have I mischaracterized your position?"

"If the government is refusing to provide any modifiers to that search term ... we have reached an impasse," Jacob said.

Armstrong stated one year ago that Weisel knew about the doping going on at the team but Weisel would not confirm this when asked by Cyclingnews.

The US Postal Service's sponsorship of Armstrong's team totalled some $40 million, and under the Federal False Claims Act, the government could stand to recoup three times that amount if it wins the case.

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