Nike forced to hand over communications with Lance Armstrong, US Judge orders

Latest step in $100 million whistleblower lawsuit

US District Judge Marco Hernandez has decided that sportswear company Nike must hand over communications between it and its former sponsored athlete, disgraced seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, in an on-going legal battle, according to a report in USA Today.

Lawyers representing the federal government had requested to see communications between Nike and Armstrong as part of the whistleblower lawsuit, a civil fraud lawsuit against Armstrong.

The whistleblower lawsuit was originally filed by Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis. The US Justice Department joined the case in 2013 in an effort to recover sponsorship funding paid by the US Postal Service to the team between 1996 and 2004. The case could see Armstrong lose US$100 million, and a third of those damages could go the whistleblower, Landis. Armstrong has said he fears financial ruin because of this lawsuit.

The federal government and Armstrong subpoenas Nike to provide information in the lawsuit, however, the sportswear company claimed they don’t have an involvement in the case. Although Judge Hernandez has requested the communications between Nike and Armstrong, he has not yet decided on ordering Nike to provider financial information, which was requested by Armstrong.

At the beginning of August, the US government had subpoenaed the Indiana University School of Medicine to provide Lance Armstrong’s medical records from the time of his treatment for cancer in 1996, to find out if his doctors knew that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. The government also issued subpoenas for testimony from Armstrong's other former sponsors Trek Bicycle Corp., Giro Sport Design and Discovery Communications Inc.

The report in USA Today had a quote from US Justice Department attorney Greg Mason, who told the judge, "(Armstrong) is saying the U.S. Postal Service should have known that he was doping because of allegations, because of publicly available information that is available to all of Armstrong’s sponsors.

"The United States is entitled to develop facts surrounding what other sponsors knew. If sponsors X, Y and Z were all in the dark, that undermines Armstrong’s argument that the Postal Service should have known."

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