The United States Justice Department has filed its complaint and met the Tuesday deadline to join the whistleblower case against Lance Armstrong and his former team director Johan Bruyneel, the US Postal team's management company Tailwind Sports, financier Tom Weisel, Armstrong's agent Bill Stapleton and former Tailwind president Barton Knaggs.
The complaint states the defendants received payments and other benefits from the United States Postal Service, the team's headline sponsor, in circumstances that were "unjust".
"Defendants were unjustly enriched to the extent of the payments and other benefits they received from the USPS, either directly or indirectly," read the in The Associated Press.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles in the wake of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's Reasoned Decision document and later confessed to using banned methods to achieve his Tour victories. The whistleblower case was reportedly filed by former teammate Floyd Landis that alleges Armstrong defrauded the US government - USPS - by engaging in doping practices. The use of doping substances was in contrary to the contract agreement outlined between Tailwind and USPS.
Armstrong's people were quick to squash the complaint with attorney Elliot Peters suggesting the US Postal Service benefited greatly during Armstrong's Tour reign from 1999-2004 - the year's the government department sponsored the team. Peters called the complaint "opportunistic, and insincere" before seeking to dismantle their oppositions case.
"The U.S. Postal Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship of the cycling team. Its own studies repeatedly and conclusively prove this. The USPS was never the victim of fraud. Lance Armstrong rode his heart out for the USPS team, and gave the brand tremendous exposure during the sponsorship years," said Peters.
The case was issued in 2010 but was only recently bolstered by the admissions of Armstrong and his former US Postal teammates. The case could be worth up to US$100 million after the Federal Department stated they would seek three-times the amount of sponsorship dollars recorded during that period. The amount paid to the US Postal squad is reportedly in the area of $40 million while Armstrong himself allegedly received $17 million from 1998-2004.
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