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Armstrong to challenge statute of limitations in whistleblower case

By:
Cycling News
Published:
February 26, 2013, 5:17 GMT,
Updated:
February 26, 2013, 5:17 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Lance Armstrong (US Postal) protected by his body guard at the 2004 Tour de France

Lance Armstrong (US Postal) protected by his body guard at the 2004 Tour de France

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Defense strategy revealed in newspaper report

Lance Armstrong's legal team will reportedly claim that not only has there been enough information regarding doping practices within US Postal that the whistleblower suit should have been filed earlier, but that the US Government had or should have had knowledge of the violations.

A confidential source from within Armstrong's inner circle has told the USA Today late on Monday that:

"We will say there was enough information (about doping on the USPS team) to put you (the government) on notice, and you should have filed a false claim before."

Late last week the US Department of Justice joined the 'qui tam' suit, reportedly initiated by Floyd Landis. The suit alleges that the team defrauded the government by engaging in doping while under sponsorship of the Postal Service, actions which were contrary to the terms of the sponsorship agreement.

Named in the suit are Armstrong, manager Johan Bruyneel, financier Thomas Weisel, Armstrong's agent Bill Stapleton and former Tailwind Sports president Barton Knaggs.

Under the federal False Claims Act, citizens are able to file suit against those who defraud the government, and for their trouble can be awarded up to one-third of any money reclaimed by the government. Defendants can be fined up to three times the amount - which in the case of the US Postal Service sponsorship agreement was over $30 million.

The suit was filed in 2010, but was bolstered by Armstrong's recent confession to having doped during all seven of his Tour de France victories. The US Postal Service sponsored the team during his first six Tour wins - 1999-2004. The US Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of all seven titles and banned him for life after compiling thousands of pages of evidence against him.

According to the USA Today report, the confidential source said that while the team was dogged by rumours at the height of its success in the late 90s and early 2000s, instead of investigating any of the claims being made allegedlly, "instead offered to hire a public-relations firm to boost its image."

 

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