Lance Armstrong Settles Doping Lawsuit For R61 Million
Lance Armstrong announced on Thursday that he has settled the lawsuit filed against him by ex-teammate Floyd Landis, closing the chapter on a nearly eight-year saga over the doping scheme that helped propel him to seven Tour de France wins, then saw him stripped of his titles and handed a lifetime ban from pro cycling.
The decision means Armstrong will avoid a potential $100 million (R1.23 billion) federal penalty had the case gone to trial. Instead he settled for just $5 million (R61.3 million), plus Landis’ legal fees.
While Armstrong admitted to extensive doping, he maintained that he acted no differently than other pro cyclists of his era, who also doped. A statement released by his lawyers pointedly noted those feelings.
“I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life,” Armstrong said. “While I believe that their lawsuit against me was without merit and unfair, I have since 2013 tried to take full responsibility for my mistakes, and make amends wherever possible.”
Landis sued Armstrong in 2010 under the False Claims Act, which covers instances of fraud against the federal government. (The lawsuit remained sealed for almost three years until it leaked in 2013, the same year Armstrong admitted to doping on the Oprah Winfrey Show.) His argument was that the US Postal Service would never have sponsored their team for as long as it did had Armstrong not concealed his doping.
USPS sponsored the team from 1996-2004, covering six of Armstrong’s seven Tour victories. Landis had a doping scandal of his own in 2006 when he tested tested positive for synthetic testosterone during the Tour de France, which he raced with the Phonak pro team.
The Armstrong-Landis case, which the federal government eventually joined as a co-plaintiff, was delayed multiple times. It had been set to go to trial on the 8th May.
Under the False Claims Act, a defendant can be liable for up to triple the actual damages. It was widely reported that Landis and the government were seeking around $100 million (R1.23 billion), of which Landis stood to receive at least 15 per cent. As other co-defendants, such as Armstrong’s agent Bill Stapleton and one-time team backer and investment banker Thom Weisel, settled out of court or were dismissed from the case, that left Armstrong as the last major party on the hook for damages. “I don’t have $100 million,” he told ESPN in 2013.
The settlement means that Armstrong no longer faces a potentially devastating financial judgment against him. The case was the last unresolved legal proceeding in a saga that started almost exactly eight years ago, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Landis had sent emails to cycling officials admitting his own doping and accusing Armstrong of the same.
In the near-decade since, Armstrong saw himself stripped of his Tour titles and banned from Olympic endurance sports for life. Almost every personal sponsor he had cut ties with him, as did the cancer foundation he created.
“I’m looking forward to devoting myself to the many great things in my life,” he said in his statement on Thursday. “My kids, my wife, my podcast, several exciting writing and film projects, my work as a cancer survivor, and my passion for sports and competition. There is a lot to look forward to.”
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