Lance Armstrong settles lawsuit with federal government for $5 million

The Turnstile
Lance Armstrong has settled a federal lawsuit for $5 million. (Reuters)
Lance Armstrong has settled a federal lawsuit for $5 million. (Reuters)

Lance Armstrong has reached a settlement with the federal government in a whistleblower lawsuit that could have cost him as much as $100 million. Armstrong settled for $5 million just weeks before a trial was scheduled to start.

Why was Armstrong being sued?

Armstrong was the target of a federal whistleblower lawsuit filed by his former U.S. Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis in 2010. The federal government joined the suit in 2013, having invested heavily in Armstrong’s teams during a period in which he was using performance-enhancing drugs. Armstrong was eventually stripped of his seven Tour de France victories, part of a stunning fall from grace for one of the world’s most famous athletes.

Why was the federal government involved?

Via the Postal Service. The USPS sponsored Armstrong to the tune of about $32 million from 2000 to 2004, the exact time Armstrong was winning many of his Tour de France titles. But in 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, acting on testimony from Landis — stripped Armstrong of his titles. Landis also sued Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act, alleging fraud. Armstrong attempted to counter that the federal government had received far more favorable publicity from its association with him than it spent, but attorneys for the government argued that he was “unjustly enriched” by competing while using performance-enhancing drugs.

What other legal issues does Armstrong face?

This was the last large remaining suit, one that could have reached $100 million with treble damages. Armstrong has already paid out about $20 million in other lawsuits, and lost all his major sponsors in addition to his honors. The charity he founded, which at one point reached $500 million in donations, has rebranded itself Livestrong and now operates at a vastly reduced level. Armstrong was at one point the target of a federal criminal grand jury, but that investigation closed in 2012 without charges.

What does Armstrong have to say about the settlement?

“While I believe that their lawsuit against me was meritless and unfair, and while I am spending a lot of money to resolve it, I have since 2013 tried to take full responsibility for my mistakes and inappropriate conduct, and make amends wherever possible,” Armstrong told the AP in a statement. “I rode my heart out for the Postal cycling team, and was always especially proud to wear the red, white and blue eagle on my chest when competing in the Tour de France. Those memories are very real and mean a lot to me.” Armstrong also indicated he looked forward to focusing on his family and projects, including TV, film, and a podcast, going forward.
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Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.

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