Floyd Landis lawsuit targets Lance Armstrong and his associates

Disgraced riders Floyd Landis (left) and Lance Armstrong once rode together on the U.S. Postal Service team. AP File
Disgraced riders Floyd Landis (left) and Lance Armstrong once rode together on the U.S. Postal Service team. AP File
Posted: January 19, 2013

Former teammate Floyd Landis has targeted not only Lance Armstrong but also three of Armstrong's closest associates - his longtime manager, his closest friend, and his deep-pocketed benefactor - in the whistle-blower lawsuit that has been under judicial seal for more than 21/2 years.

And Landis reserves the right to add others to the qui tam suit, which claims that Armstrong and his associates defrauded the federal government by accepting roughly $30 million in sponsorship money to bankroll a U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling team that was fueled by performance-enhancing drugs.

The 33-page suit, which has been under seal since it was filed June 10, 2010, was leaked and posted on a blog Thursday, roughly nine hours before the first installment of Armstrong's interview with Oprah Winfrey aired. After more than a decade of vehement denials, Armstrong confessed in the interview to having doped during a career that included seven Tour de France championships and an Olympic bronze medal.

The U.S. Justice Department faced a Thursday deadline to decide whether to join Landis' action but is believed to have requested an extension. Federal officials are reportedly divided on whether pursuing the case represents a prudent use of taxpayer dollars.

Landis, a Lancaster County native, was a member of the U.S. Postal Service team from 2002 through 2004, and his whistle-blower suit details his own use of banned substances and blood-doping practices along with numerous instances of Armstrong and others doing the same in hotel rooms, on team buses, and in private apartments.

Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France championship after a positive drug test. He now stands to collect millions if his case, filed under the federal False Claims Act, goes forward and succeeds.

The plaintiff's reward is a cut of the money that's recovered - 15 percent to 25 percent if the U.S. Department of Justice joins the action and takes the lead role in the case, or 25 percent to 30 percent if the private plaintiff pursues the case without the government's help or resources, said Peter Chatfield of Washington-based Phillips & Cohen, which specializes in such cases.

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