Washington Postal Scene — By Bill McAllister
The United States Postal Service stands to receive “a substantial portion” of the $5 million former cyclist Lance Armstrong is paying the government to end a lawsuit over his Tour de France victories, a Justice Department spokeswoman has said.
The settlement, announced April 19, came before the scheduled May 7 trial that would have focused on the government’s allegations that the celebrated athlete violated terms of his Postal Service sponsorship by doping during the races.
The Postal Service had paid Armstrong’s racing team $23.3 million between 2000 and 2004 to wear the Postal Service’s sonic eagle logo in international races.
For years after his Tour de France wins, Armstrong strongly denied he had taken drugs during his string of unprecedented victories in what was cycling’s most prestigious race.
But after he admitted on television in 2013 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs for years, he was stripped of his Tour de France victories and barred from the sport.
“I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life,” the 46-year-old Armstrong said in a statement.
In addition to the $5 million that Armstrong will pay the government, he is to pay $1.65 million to Floyd Landis, a former member of his team who initially filed the lawsuit against Armstrong in 2010.
The federal government later joined the suit on behalf of the Postal Service, supporting Landis’ claims of doping by the USPS cycling team.
“The Postal Service has strongly supported the Department of Justice’s intervention and pursuit of this case, as it always has been our position that Lance Armstrong misled the Postal Service,” said Thomas J. Marshall, the Postal Service’s general counsel.
The Postal Service’s contract with Armstrong specifically banned the use of banned drugs by any member of the cycling team.
“This matter has been resolved in a manner that imposes consequences from that wrongful action,” Marshall said.
“With this case, as in all other instances, the Postal Service vigorously defends our brand and our position as a trusted government institution,” he added.
Armstrong’s racing in Europe was highly supported by the Postal Service, which would dispatch a member of its public relations staff to races to help promote the team.
When questioned during the sponsorship, the agency defended Armstrong. It would cite the drug ban required by the contract and note the extensive publicity his victories secured as proving the value of the sponsorship.
The Postal Service claimed that the team’s efforts would boosts the use of international mail.
Armstrong, a cancer survivor, had the Postal Service backing his team from 1996 to 2004.
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He did not make many appearances in the United States on behalf of the Postal Service, a fact that upset some postal workers who privately questioned the value of the sponsorship.
The Landis claim against Armstrong was filed under the False Claims Act, which allows individuals to file suits over alleged governmental fraud and to share some of the proceeds of any wrongdoing against the government.