WASHINGTON -- Cyclist Lance Armstrong wants a federal judge to throw out the government's false-claims lawsuit against him, saying that the U.S. Postal Service benefited significantly from its sponsorship of him and his team.
"The government wanted a winner and all the publicity, exposure, and acclaim that goes along with being his sponsor," attorneys for the disgraced cyclist said in court filings last week. "It got exactly what it bargained for."
Mr. Armstrong, who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, said the government was well aware in 2000 of investigations into allegations that his team was using performance-enhancing drugs. But instead of suspending its sponsorship, the Postal Service renewed its contract with Mr. Armstrong and his teammates.
Mr. Armstrong was responding to the Justice Department's decision in February to join the whistleblower lawsuit of his former teammate Floyd Landis. The government is seeking to recoup millions of dollars it paid out through sponsorship agreements.
Mr. Armstrong's lawyers say it is "far too late" for the government to make its case. The statute of limitations for false-claims lawsuits is six years. Mr. Landis's lawsuit was filed under seal in June 2010, more than six years after the government made its last payment, according to Mr. Armstrong's attorneys.
The Postal Service, which is struggling to stay solvent, spent more than $31 million during a four-year contract signed in 2000. Mr. Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France championship after a positive drug test, stands to recover millions if the case is successful. The Justice Department has until September to respond.
First Published July 29, 2013 4:00 AM