Whistleblower Law Blog

United States Joins Whistleblower Lawsuit against Lance Armstrong

The U.S. government has joined the whistleblower lawsuit filed by cyclist Floyd Landis against his former teammate Lance Armstrong, who was recently stripped of his Tour de France titles for using banned drugs and other performance enhancers.

Landis would share any money recovered by the government from Armstrong and some of his closest associates, who Landis claims defrauded the United States Postal Service (USPS) of more than $30 million in sponsorship fees. The USPS sponsorship required Armstrong’s team to follow the official rules of cycling, which ban many performance enhancers.

Landis filed his lawsuit in U.S. District Court under a qui tam provision of the False Claims Act, which allows private parties to sue on behalf of the United States for fraudulent use of government funds. The government then decides whether to intervene in the lawsuit.

In this case, the U.S. Department of Justice said it will join Landis’ allegations against Armstrong; former team director Johan Bruyneel; and team owner Tailwind Sports. Landis named other defendants in the suit, but the Justice Department said it won’t target them.

Landis filed his lawsuit in 2010. In it he admits to using banned performance-enhancing drugs himself, and he details the drug use and blood-doping practices of teammates including Armstrong, whom he tags as the ringleader. In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong admitted to using banned substances during each of his seven Tour de France victories. He and his fellow defendants have denied defrauding the government, however — and, indeed, his attorney claims that the USPS benefited greatly from its sponsorship of the Tailwind team.

The Employment Law Group® law firm’s whistleblower attorneys have helped many clients file suit against employers that fraudulently bill the U.S. government, and have established favorable precedents under the retaliation provision of the False Claims Act.

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