Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
A lawsuit alleging that Lance Armstrong defrauded the US government will proceed to full trial, after the US District Court dismissed Armstrong’s claim for summary judgment on Monday. The lawsuit was originally launched in June 2010 by teammate Floyd Landis under the Federal False Claims Act, alleging that by accepting money from the US Postal Service (USPS) for cycling team sponsorship whilst continuing to dope in violation of the contract, the defendants were defrauding the US government.
The Federal False Claims Act includes a ‘qui tam’ provision that allows people to file actions on behalf of the government – often known as ‘whistleblowing’. The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has an option to join the lawsuit – an option it took in February 2013. A marketing study commissioned by the USPS showed that while it spent $32.27 million on the cycling team from 2001/2004, it realised a marketing benefit of $103.63 million. The Landis lawsuit seeks treble damages, however it is understood that the final figure will depend on an assessment of the marketing benefits to USPS, which would then be deducted from the damages. Media reports have estimated that the case could cost Armstrong close to $100 million.
Armstrong had argued that the benefits to USPS outweighed any damages, and sought to have the case decided by summary judgment without proceeding to full trial. ‘Because the government has offered evidence that Armstrong withheld information about the team’s doping and use of PEDs and that the anti-doping provisions of the sponsorship agreements were material to USPS’s decision to continue the sponsorship and make payments under the agreements, the Court must deny Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment on this issue’, wrote Judge Christopher Cooper of the US District Court for the District of Columbia in a 37-page ruling.
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