The legal post-confession saga of Lance Armstrong is reaching volcanic proportions. On Friday, the U.S. Justice Department joined a whistleblower lawsuit against the one-time seven-time Tour de France winner.
The Department of Justice joined Floyd Landis' lawsuit. Landis, a former teammate of Armstrong's and another racer stripped of a Tour de France title, filed a lawsuit against Armstrong in 2010. The suit alleged that Armstrong had hidden his doping from the team's sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service, because the sponsorship contract -- worth about $31 million from 2001 to 2004 -- prohibited the use of performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
Attorney Ronald C. Machen explained the government's move as follows:
Armstrong and associates took more than $30 million from the U.S. Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules.
In today’s economic climate, the U.S. Postal Service is simply not in a position to allow Lance Armstrong or any of the other defendants to walk away with the tens of millions of dollars they illegitimately procured.
Those following the trials and tribulations of the USPS know that there is truth to the statement.
Even before admitting his guilt in terms of PED use, Armstrong was forced to make several moves, in the wake of being banned for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) over alleged use of PEDs. The USADA issued a 200-page report on Oct. 10 after what was said to be an extensive, wide-ranging investigation into the issue.
Just a few days later he was stripped of his Tour de France titles by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and banned for life.
Following those events, he removing himself from association with the charitable foundation he founded, LiveStrong. He then confessed -- on air -- to Oprah Winfrey.
After he confessed, it was widely expected that legal efforts against him would not just accelerate, they would increase in number.
He’s been stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and his Olympic medal, has been dropped by all his former big money sponsors, is facing several other lawsuits, and has been banned for life from participating in any sport covered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
This lawsuit could hammer Armstrong's finances. His estimated worth is about $125 million, but in federal whistleblower lawsuits, a court or jury can award triple damages. Considering the $31 million in question, that award could amount to up to $93 million, taking about 3/4 of his wealth.