Judge clears way for £80m lawsuit against Lance Armstrong

Judge clears way for £80m lawsuit against Lance Armstrong

The Lance Armstrong lawsuit by the U.S. Postal Service seeking $100 million after sponsoring the disgraced former cycling champion will go to trial after a federal judge refused to dismiss the case.

"Landis, himself a former doping cheat who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, sued Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act, alleging Armstrong and his team committed fraud against the government when they cheated while riding under the Postal Service banner", says ESPN.

Armstrong won seven editions of the Tour de France between 1999 and 2005, but later admitted to doping and had the wins stripped and was banned from cycling for life in 2012. He lost his seven Tour de France wins and was banned from professional bicycling as a result.

A footnote in the 37-page opinion made clear that the Postal Service's sponsorship of Armstrong from 1995 to 2004 actually cost more than $42 million. After repeatedly denying the accusations, Armstrong publicly acknowledged to years of doping in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January of 2013.

Armstrong sought to get a summary judgement on the case last April. "(But) disregarding any benefits USPS received from the sponsorship could bestow the government with an undeserved windfall. Landis stands to collect up to 30 percent of that money as a whistleblower.

Eliot Peters, an attorney for Armstrong, did not respond to a request for comment.

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Armstrong conceded in 2013 that he had used performance enhancing drugs as a rider despite years of strenuous denials in the face of persistent rumors.

The sum of almost $100 million is the amount that a jury could decide Armstrong and Tailwind should pay in damages for violating the FCA.

If a federal jury rules for the plaintiffs, the defendants would be on the hook for treble damages - three times the $33 million in alleged damages.

U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper's ruling to send the case to trial stresses that the damages to USPS's public image need to be decided by a jury of the public.

Of course, Landis' attorney Paul D. Scott said he was "delighted" to see the case move toward trial.

"So the government may now proceed to a trial that, as a practical matter, it can not win", he said.

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