Former professional road racing cyclist Lance Armstrong has agreed to pay the United States $5 million to settle a lawsuit alleging that his use of performance enhancing substances resulted in false claims for sponsorship payments to the Postal Service according to an announcement from the Justice Department.
The agreement was reached before the scheduled start of a civil case trial on May 7.
The Postal Service sponsored Armstrong’s cycling team during the Tour de France, paying his team a total of $32.3 million between 2000 and 2004.
The sponsorship agreements required the team to follow the rules of cycling’s governing bodies, including the rules prohibiting the use of certain performance enhancing substances and methods. Between 1999 and 2004, Lance Armstrong was the lead rider on the team, and he appeared to win the Tour de France six consecutive times.
The United States’ lawsuit against Armstrong alleged that Armstrong and his team regularly and systematically employed performance-enhancing drugs and methods PEDs, in violation of the USPS sponsorship agreements.
The lawsuit further alleged that Armstrong made numerous false statements, directly and through team managers and spokesmen, to USPS management and to the public denying his PED use to induce the USPS to renew its sponsorship of the team in late 2000, and to increase the sponsorship fees (and, by extension, Armstrong’s own salary) in light of Armstrong’s apparent Tour de France victories in 1999 and 2000.
In addition, the lawsuit alleged that Armstrong took active measures to conceal his PED use during the USPS sponsorship, and even after the sponsorship ended, including lying under oath about his PED use in a 2005 arbitration proceeding involving his entitlement to a bonus for the 2004 Tour de France result; suing the Times of London and one of its sources – a former team masseuse – for libel; and threatening other people with similar lawsuits and other forms of retribution for disclosing their knowledge or suspicions of his doping activities.
In October 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (“USADA”) issued a report and decision finding that Armstrong and his USPS teammates had engaged in a persistent and concerted doping program designed to enable Armstrong to win the Tour de France.
In the wake of the USADA report, Armstrong was stripped of all of his competitive cycling results, including the seven Tour de France wins, and was banned from participating in competitive sports. Armstrong admitted to his extensive PED-use in a nationally televised interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013.
“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, U.S. Postal Service General Counsel and Executive Vice President. “This matter has now been resolved in a manner that imposes consequences for that wrongful action. With this case, as in all other instances, the Postal Service vigorously defends our brand and our position as a trusted government institution.”
Armstrong said in a statement to NPR, “I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life. I’m looking forward to devoting myself to the many great things in my life – my five 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.”