Armstrong Team Chief Joins Cyclist’s Bid to Zap U.S. Suit

The ex-manager of Lance Armstrong’s the U.S. Postal Service team cycling team joined the disgraced athlete in seeking dismissal of a lawsuit claiming they defrauded the government by allowing or using banned substances.

Johan Bruyneel, who managed the Tailwind Sports Corp. team, filed his request today to dismiss the complaints accusing him of False Claims Act violations brought by the U.S. Justice Department and ex-teammate Floyd Landis. Bruyneel, in the filing in federal court in Washington, said he would join Armstrong’s motion to dismiss, which is due today.

Bruyneel said the government’s case is barred by the statute of limitations and that the false statements claim in the government’s case isn’t supported by the law. He also said the U.S. can’t make a reverse false claim because it hasn’t alleged that Bruyneel had any obligation to pay money to the government.

The government, which joined the Landis suit in April, alleges the U.S. paid Tailwind about $40 million through the team’s contract with the U.S. Postal Service from 1998 through 2004. The contract required the team to refrain from using substances banned by the sport’s governing bodies.

Tailwind used Postal Service sponsorship fees to pay Armstrong’s salary of $17.9 million during those years, according to the complaint. The U.S. is seeking triple damages.

The Justice Department brought six counts of false claims, fraud and unjust enrichment against Armstrong, Bruyneel and Tailwind Sports. An additional breach of contract claim was brought against Tailwind. Tailwind founder Thomas Weisel, one of several additional defendants in Landis’s suit, wasn’t named in the U.S. complaint.

The case is U.S., ex rel. Floyd Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corp., 10-cv-00976, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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