It is seeking nearly $100 million in damages and on Monday filed a withering 59-page document to press its case. “No sponsor who knew the truth about how Armstrong achieved his apparent Tour de France victories would have paid any amount of money to sponsor him or his team,” U.S. Justice Department attorneys wrote.The government is suing Armstrong for fraud and other claims on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, which paid more than $40 million to sponsor his cycling team more than a decade ago.
“Armstrong’s motion for summary judgment should be denied in its entirety, and this Court should set a date for trial,” government attorneys wrote.
It’s the latest trading of blows between two heavyweights – The United States vs. Lance Armstrong, a civil case that’s been roiling since 2013, shortly after Armstrong finally confessed to using banned drugs and blood transfusions to boost his performance on the bike.
The government says Armstrong’s cycling team violated its USPS sponsorship contracts by doping and then concealed it in order to continue payment. In April, the government also asked the court to determine in summary judgment that Armstrong’s cycling team owner received $32.3 million from the USPS from 2000 to 2004 based on 41 claims for payment.
Under the False Claims Act, the government could get that money back times three if its case succeeds– nearly $100 million, with Armstrong possibly on the hook for all of it.
On Monday, Armstrong’s attorneys asked the court to reject the government’s request to establish those payment figures as fact, saying the request was improper and that Armstrong didn’t have anything to do with submitting the invoices. The contract was between the USPS and the cycling team’s owner, Tailwind Sports, a company that dissolved in 2007.
“The evidence is crystal clear,” Armstrong’s attorneys wrote. “Armstrong had no role in causing the submission of invoices to the USPS for payment under the Sponsorship Agreements, nor did he have any role in the government’s payment of those invoices.”
Armstrong’s attorneys at the firm Keker & Van Nest also have argued the Postal Service was not damaged by the doping and instead received far more in positive publicity and other benefits from the deal than what it paid out. One expert hired by Armstrong’s attorneys estimated the USPS received at least $333 million in benefits from the sponsorship from 1998 through 2004.
The government ripped that notion Monday.