Former cyclist Floyd Landis, an ex-teammate of Lance Armstrong who was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title because of doping, admitted to defrauding donors to his legal defense fund and agreed to pay more than $475,000 in restitution.
Landis, 36, admitted at a hearing today in federal court in San Diego that he defrauded 1,765 people who had given money to his Floyd Fairness Fund by falsely claiming he hadn’t used performance-enhancing drugs during his professional cycling career, U.S. Attorney Laura E. Duffy said in a statement.
An American Arbitration Association panel in 2007 upheld findings by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that Landis had tested positive for testosterone. The arbitration ruling led to Landis being banned from the sport for two years. Court records show that Landis spent more than $2 million to fight the doping allegation, including money from the Floyd Fairness Fund, according to the statement. Landis in 2010 admitted he had used performance-enhancing drugs.
Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour title after a positive drug test, said in 2010 that he and Armstrong were among members of the U.S. Postal Service-sponsored team who used illegal substances to boost their performance during the most prestigious professional cycling event.
Armstrong, who won the Tour de France seven times, said yesterday he won’t submit to arbitration to defend against the Anti-Doping Agency’s allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. The agency said yesterday in response to Armstrong’s decision that it has stripped the 40-year-old of his titles and banned him from the sport for life.
The deferred-prosecution agreement means that Landis doesn’t have to enter a guilty plea and has three years to pay the restitution, Assistant U.S. Attorney Phillip Halpern said in a phone interview. If Landis fails to repay the donors, the Justice Department can continue prosecuting him, Halpern said.
Landis is charged with one count of wire fraud for which he could be sentenced to as long as 20 years in prison if convicted, according to the U.S. attorney’s statement.
Leo Cunningham, Landis’s lawyer, didn’t immediately return a phone call seeking comment on the agreement.
The case is U.S. v. Landis, 12-3481, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California (San Diego).