Federal suit against Lance Armstrong hinges on judge's ruling

Whistleblower case at a critical decision point

The US Federal False Claims Act or 'whistleblower' lawsuit against Lance Armstrong could be reaching its final phase as a judge is set to make a ruling on whether the case should go to trial or be dismissed.

USA Today reports that District Judge Christopher Cooper is poised to make this decision in the $100 million case which was initially brought by Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis, and then joined by the federal government. It alleges that Armstrong defrauded the government by doping during the time the US Postal Service acted as title sponsor for his team. Should they win, the damages owed would be three times the amount of the fraud.

The government asked Cooper for a summary judgment stating that the US Postal Service team's owners, Tailwind Sports, were paid a total of $32,267,279.85 by the US Postal Service, a request they feel will "streamline the remaining litigation and shorten trial."

Armstrong's attorneys have argued that the US Postal Service's own reports show that they received more than the sponsorship amount in value from the team.

"Those reports established that the USPS received at least $165 million in domestic and international media exposure as a result of the cycling team sponsorship between 2001 and 2004," Peters wrote. "The reports are admissible both as adoptive admissions and as business records. And when admitted, the reports alone eviscerate the government's damages claim."

Armstrong's attorneys also argue that he should not be held responsible for the payments made to Tailwind, which was dissolved in 2007, and want the case dismissed entirely.

The government, however, disagrees with Peters' insistence that the case be dismissed and wants the case to go to trial.

"Armstrong's liability for causing the presentment of Tailwind's claims is an issue for trial," their arguments stated.

Earlier this year, the government attorneys issued a 59-page report in response to the request to have the case dismissed, writing, "No sponsor who knew the truth about how Armstrong achieved his apparent Tour de France victories would have paid any amount of money to sponsor him or his team."

Armstrong lied about doping to win his seven Tours de France until 2013, when he had already been banned for life by the US Anti-Doping Agency and stripped of those titles by the UCI.

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