Over 50 witnesses called in Lance Armstrong whistleblower case

Possibility of settlement before trial start date on May 7 in Washington, D.C.

Over 50 individuals have or will be called to give witness testimony in the upcoming Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corporation case, also referred to as the Lance Armstrong whistleblower case, after subpoenas were issued by the United States District Court earlier this week. The US Federal Government's False Claims Act (FCA) suit against Armstrong and former team owners Tailwind Sports began in 2010 on the back of Floyd Landis' public doping confession. Armstrong and Landis rode together as teammates between 2002 and 2004.

The government alleges that Armstrong defrauded the USPS by "actively concealing the team's violations of the agreements' anti-doping provisions," under its sponsorship contract.

The civil trial, which is set to begin on May 7 in Washington, D.C., will decide whether Lance Armstrong defrauded the US Postal Service by concealing his doping activities so that it would continue the sponsorship and its hefty payments. Although recent evidentiary rulings have potentially limited the amount of damages the government can claim, Armstrong could be liable to pay in the region of $100 million USD if found liable for the entire amount of damages alleged.

There are, however, as Cyclingnews understands from one source, ongoing negotiations for the case to be settled before the date of the trial, which would not be surprising given what is at stake for all involved.

Armstrong won seven editions of the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005 but was stripped of his titles and given a life-time ban in 2012 by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). At the start of 2013, he confessed to doping during his professional career. His life-time ban remains in place.

Cyclingnews has contacted several people who have either confirmed that they have received notification to arrive at the trial in May or have told Cyclingnews that they fully expect to be contacted to testify.

Both Armstrong's legal team and the US Government have submitted witness lists in the last few weeks. Cyclingnews understands that both Armstrong and Landis will testify if the case reaches a trial. In such a scenario both men would be open to cross-examination.

Cyclingnews has learned that former US Postal riders, George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton, Jonathan Vaughters, Frankie Andreu and Levi Leipheimer will all be asked to give testimony. All five riders co-operated with USADA's investigation into doping on the US Postal Service cycling team. Two other former USPS riders who also testified in front USADA – Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde - will not be called to Washington.

The witnesses are not limited to former professional riders, with several key individuals also set to be called. USADA have confirmed to Cyclingnews that both their CEO, Travis Tygart, and their legal representative, Bill Bock, are both on the government's list of witnesses. 

The US Government have also requested that the journalist David Walsh, former WADA head Dick Pound, three-time Tour winner Greg LeMond, Christophe Bassons and Armstrong's former wife appear. When contacted by Cyclingnews, Walsh said that he had not confirmed one way or another as to whether he would appear.

Betsy Andreu confirmed to Cyclingnews that her subpoena from the Government arrived Friday. She added that the document commanded her attendance on May 7 in Washington. The subpoena was signed by Robert J McAuliffe, the Assistant Director for the US Department of Justice. When contacted by Cyclingnews, Andreu said "if Armstrong was smart, he would settle."

While the trial moves closer there is still a possibility of the case reaching a settlement before the May 7 date. In order for that to happen Armstrong would need to agree a financial settlement between himself and the US government.

In November 2017, it was revealed that Armstrong attempted to exclude 'on the grounds of relevance' testimony relating to his car accident in 2014, and evidence from Betsy Andreu and Greg LeMond. This motion was denied by the court. The court ruled that that both Andreu and LeMond 'both appear poised to provide relevant testimony.' Armstrong also looked to block the Government from introducing any footage from the 2013 documentary film The Armstrong Lie. On this matter, the court also disagreed.

An initial pretrial conference is scheduled for April 24, in Washington, while both parties are set to meet and prepare a Joint Pretrial Statement that must be submitted by April 9. Lance Armstrong's former USPS team boss, Johan Bruyneel, is listed as a co-defendant but Cyclingnews understands that he has not been called to Washington to give evidence.

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