Lance Armstrong agrees to $5 million settlement with US government
Facing a $100-million fraud lawsuit brought about by the Federal government, Lance Armstrong has reached a settlement that will see him pay $5 million, according to reports in multiple media outlets.
“This ends all litigation against Armstrong related to his 2013 admission that during his career as a professional cyclist he had used performance-enhancing substances,” read a statement from Armstrong’s legal team.
Armstrong, who claimed seven Tour de France victories during his career before seeing all seven stripped by the UCI following USADA’s “reasoned decision,” rode for a squad sponsored by the United States Postal Service for several years. The U.S. government sued Armstrong after he admitted to using to doping in 2013, arguing that his years of doping had hurt the U.S. Postal Service.
Over the course of its sponsorship run, the U.S. Postal Service paid Armstrong’s cycling team $32.3 million.
“No one is above the law,” U.S. Justice Department lawyer Chad Readler said in a statement announcing the deal. “This settlement demonstrates that those who cheat the government will be held accountable.”
Floyd Landis, Armstrong’s former teammate, initially sued Armstrong in 2010 under the False Claims Act, alleging the team’s doping constituted fraud against the federal government. The U.S. government joined the case in 2013.
As the originator of the whistleblower lawsuit, Landis stands to be awarded up to a quarter of the settlement. Armstrong’s lawyer, Elliot Peters, told The New York Times that Armstrong will cover Landis’s legal costs, which tallied $1.65 million.
“I really didn’t want to relive it in a courtroom, and I don’t think Lance did either, and I don’t know that that would have really accomplished anything,” Landis said.
“Rather than going through that humiliation again, we’re better off. I mean, it was up to Lance, but I think he probably feels the same way.”
However, the settlement was greeted with dismay by Betsy Andreu, the wife of former Armstrong team-mate Frankie Andreu. The Andreus were among the first to go on the record about Armstrong’s doping.
Betsy Andreu said the settlement amounted to Armstrong being let off the hook.
“My thought is a vengeful, unremorseful pathological liar was revealed and got a lifetime ban so all is not lost,” Andreu wrote on Facebook. “in the end he is who he is and money can’t buy class, respect or reputation.”
Armstrong’s personal fortune had been estimated at around $125 million in 2012.
But since his dramatic fall, he has lost lucrative sponsorship deals and in 2015 was ordered to pay back $10 million in bonus payments given to him by Dallas-based SCA Promotions relating to his Tour wins in 2002, 2003, and 2004.
The Washington Post reported he had recently listed his home in Austin, Texas for sale at $7.5 million.
“I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life,” Armstrong said in a statement. “I am particularly glad to have made peace with the Postal Service. 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. 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.”