Lance Armstrong Questioning Put on Hold in Landis CaseAndrew Zajac
The judge in a whistle-blower lawsuit accusing Lance Armstrong of defrauding the government by using banned substances in violation of his team’s contract with the U.S. Postal Service put on hold a deposition of the disgraced cyclist.
Judge Robert Wilkins in Washington said he expects to rule within a week on a request by Armstrong to dismiss the lawsuit, originally brought by former teammate Floyd Landis in June 2010. The case was joined in part by the Justice Department in February 2013.
Wilkins said in November that he was inclined to let at least some of the lawsuit go forward. He told the parties to meet within 20 days after his ruling to propose a schedule, according to an order he issued this afternoon. A June 23 deposition in which Armstrong would be asked questions under oath by opposing lawyers could be reset if the case proceeds.
A record seven-time Tour de France winner from 1999 to 2005, Armstrong was stripped of the titles by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in August 2012. He acknowledged in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013 that he used a mixture of erythropoietin, testosterone and blood transfusions throughout his career.
The government claims the U.S. paid about $40 million in false claims through the team’s contract with the Postal Service from 1998 to 2004. Armstrong’s former team, Tailwind Sports Corp., used Postal Service sponsorship fees to pay his salary of $17.9 million during those years, according to the complaint.
The U.S. is seeking triple damages. Landis, who also admitted to using performance enhancing drugs as a cyclist, could share in any award under U.S. whistle-blower law.
The U.S. joined Landis in suing Armstrong, Tailwind and the team’s former manager, Johan Bruyneel. Other defendants named by Landis, including Tailwind’s founder, Thomas Weisel, were left out of the government’s action.
Wilkins didn’t indicate in November which defendants he might drop.
The judge was assigned the case as a district judge and kept control of it when he was elevated to the appeals bench by President Barack Obama in January.
The case is U.S. v. Tailwind Sports Corp., 10-cv-00976, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).