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A federal judge has denied Lance Armstrong’s request to dismiss a $100 million fraud lawsuit filed against him last year by the U.S. government, USA Today reported Thursday.
In an 81-page ruling, Judge Robert Wilkins allowed the government’s case to proceed, setting the stage for a long and expensive court fight against the disgraced cyclist, who stands to lose a fortune if the government prevails.
Armstrong’s attorneys had argued the case was too old to bring under the statute of limitations. They also argued that the government should have known about his doping but did nothing to stop it because the U.S. Postal Service cycling team greatly benefited from the positive publicity surrounding Armstrong’s success in the Tour de France.
“There could possibly be documents in the government’s possession suggesting that it had reason to know the cycling team was doping, despite the findings of the investigation by the French authorities,” Wilkins wrote. “If so, there may be force to the defendants’ argument that the government should have conducted its own investigation sooner, and that if it had undertaken such an investigation, it would have uncovered doping. But the Court cannot make that determination based on the present record and based solely on the allegations in the complaint, as required when ruling on a motion to dismiss. Accordingly, the Court denies without prejudice, the defendants’ motion to dismiss the government’s action as time-barred.”
The federal government filed suit against Armstrong in February 2013, seeking nearly $100 million in damages on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, the former sponsor of Armstrong’s cycling team.
Filed under the False Claims Act, the government’s suit alleged that the USPS would not have paid $40 million to sponsor the team from 1998 to 2004 if it had known that Armstrong’s cycling team was cheating to win races in violation of its sponsorship contract.
In response, Armstrong asked the court to dismiss the case. After a hearing of the arguments in November, Wilkins issued his decision Thursday.
The fraud case against Armstrong originally was filed under seal in June 2010 by Floyd Landis. After more than a decade denials, Armstrong finally admitted to doping during a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013. About a month after that interview, the federal government announced it was joining Landis’ suit.
Read the entire USA Today story here.