Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who for years illegally used performance enhancing drugs to give him an edge over competition, says the U.S. Postal Service, his biggest sponsor, should have known about his doping. The dethroned cycling champion is attempting to have a USPS lawsuit against him thrown out by arguing that USPS officials “did nothing” and continued to back him when his Tour de France received widespread media coverage.
Last week, the U.S. Justice Department objected to Mr. Armstrong’s assertions, which he presented to the court in July, saying that “the government and the rest of the world” learned about his doping activity “only recently.”
“As a result, the sponsorship has not enhanced the Postal Service’s reputation, as the Postal Service once hoped it would, but instead will forever link the Postal Service with the sordid scandal that brought down Lance Armstrong,” the Justice Department wrote.
For years, critics have accused Mr. Armstrong of using performance-enhancing drugs, allegations which the cycling champion has adamantly denied throughout his career.
Mr. Armstrong announced his retirement from competitive cycling in February 2011 amid a federal investigation into the doping allegations. In June 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) concluded that Mr. Armstrong used illicit performance-enhancing drugs, calling it “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.” The agency then banned the athlete from all USADA-affiliated sports for life.
In January 2013, Mr. Armstrong finally admitted during an interview with Oprah that he had indeed used the drugs.
In February, the U.S. Justice Department intervened in a $120-million whistleblower lawsuit filed under the False Claims Act. The lawsuit was brought by one of Mr. Armstrong’s former teammates, Floyd Landis, who said the cyclist defrauded the U.S. government by taking sponsorship money from the Postal Service under the condition that there would be no use of performance-enhancing drugs.
According to the Wall Street Journal, people close to the case say that Mr. Armstrong’s lawyers have been negotiating with Justice Department officials to reach a settlement, but they have failed to come to an agreement.
A federal judge will hear Mr. Armstrong’s motion and the Justice Department’s next month in Washington D.C. next month and will decide whether the USPS whistleblower lawsuit will go to trial.