Judge rejects bid to keep documents sealed in Lance Armstrong inquiry

The documents show a robust back-and-forth between Armstrong’s legal team and the government, with every inch of progress contested.

WASHINGTON (VN) — It may not yet be over for Lance Armstrong and the U.S. Department of Justice.

On December 6, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued an order denying Armstrong’s motion to keep documents under seal and preserve his Fifth Amendment options in an inquiry by the U.S. Postal Service’s Office of the Inspector General.

“No authority supports the proposition that a reference in a record of a case to the ‘possible assertion’ by an individual of his or her Fifth Amendment rights is a reference which the court may redact from the public record,” magistrate judge Deborah A. Robinson’s ruling reads.

Armstrong’s defense also tried to keep documents that may surface as part of a whistleblower case locked away, under a provision that cloaks materials gleaned during grand jury proceedings.

On Thursday, Robinson concluded: “It is further ordered that the clerk of the court shall unseal this matter, and all documents filed under seal, to date, shall now be made public.”

With that, a torrent of documents flooded into the public domain. The filings give shades of relief to a battle that’s been contested under seal since the Postal Service’s inspector general issued a subpoena to Armstrong in the June of 2010 — a subpoena with which Armstrong did not initially comply, as he was also the subject of a criminal investigation at the time.

What’s on display in the newly released documents is a robust back-and-forth between Armstrong’s legal team and the government, with every inch of progress contested. The information Armstrong gave once he complied with the subpoena was not released as part of the ruling. It’s unclear whether more documents will be added.

Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France wins earlier this fall after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) published a tower of testimony as part of a “reasoned decision” that painted a picture of one of the most systemic doping regimens in the history of professional sport. That came after the Justice Department mysteriously dropped its two-year investigation into the cyclist and the USPS dynasty days before the 2011 Super Bowl.

As the Wall Street Journal noted, the Justice Department lawyers who initially tried to enforce the subpoena are also representatives for the government as it decides whether it will intervene in that whistleblower lawsuit, filed by one of Armstrong’s former teammates, Floyd Landis. That lawsuit remains sealed.