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Details of Landis' federal whistleblower suit revealed

By:
Cycling News
Published:
January 17, 2013, 19:15 GMT,
Updated:
January 17, 2013, 19:11 GMT
Edition:
First Edition Cycling News, Friday, January 18, 2013
Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team

Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis on the US Postal team

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Armstrong, Bruyneel, Weisel, Stapleton, Knaggs listed as defendants

The New York Daily News has revealed the full details of the sealed federal lawsuit filed by Floyd Landis in 2010, which accuses Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and the Tailwind Sports management company behind the US Postal Service team of defrauding the United States government by operating a systematic doping programme.

The individual defendants listed by Landis’ lawsuit are Armstrong, Bruyneel, Thomas Weisel, Armstrong’s agent Bill Stapleton and former Tailwind Sports president Barton Knaggs, while Tailwind Sports, Montgomery Sports and Capital Sports and Entertainment are also named.

The Landis suit was filed on June 10, 2010 under the Federal False Claims Act, which allows whistleblowers to sue parties who they allege have defrauded the federal government.

The 33-page document reiterates much of the evidence which Landis provided to the US Anti-Doping Agency as part of its investigation into the doping system in place at the US Postal Service team, and states that Landis “is informed and believes, based on the allegations stated herein that […] defendants have knowingly concealed and continue to conceal from the USPS the fact that defendants engaged in a systematic programme of doping.”

Landis’ lawsuit also states that “the defendants submitted or caused to be submitted claims for payment to the USPS with knowledge that the USPS Team was engaged in doping and other wrongful conduct in violation of the terms of the sponsorship contracts.”

US Postal Service renewed its sponsorship deal with the team in 2001 to the tune of $32 million, according to USADA’s reasoned decision on the Armstrong case. If successful, the total recouped by the government in the qui tam suit could, by law, be two to three times that amount, while Landis could collect up to 25% of the figure.

Landis’ lawsuit raises serious questions about the relationship between the US Postal Service team and USA Cycling. In particular, it points to Weisel’s establishment of the USA Cycling Development Foundation, “which provided contributions to USA Cycling of approximately $500,000 to $725,000 each year, a substantial portion of USA Cycling’s annual budget” and notes that “the President of the Board of Directors of USA Cycling from 2002 to 2008, Jim Ochowicz, was also a broker at Weisel’s investment bank.”

The document continues to state that Landis believes “these conflicts of interest and overlapping relationships between USA Cycling, the USA Cycling Foundation, and Thomas Weisel helped make it possible for the USPS Team to carry on the extensive program of systematically doping team athletes during the period relevant to this complaint.”

 

 

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