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by Shane Stokes
May 6, 2015
Clarifying their position as the long running court case between Lance Armstrong and the US government continues, the latter has explained why it believes the former rider’s girlfriend could be an important witness.
“Until his confession, Armstrong told only those closest to him the truth about his drug-fuelled success as a cyclist,” government attorneys stated in court documents filed on Monday, according to USA Today. “The United States is entitled to learn what Armstrong told those confidants, including Anna Hansen, about his use of performance enhancing drugs, his acts of concealment, and other matters relating to this litigation.”
Armstrong is being sued by former team-mate Floyd Landis and the US government as part of a joint Qui Tam whistleblower lawsuit originally initiated by Landis. He claims that lying by Armstrong and others connected to the former US Postal Service team constitutes fraud, not least because the sponsorship contract in place specified that banned substances could not be used.
Armstrong insisted for many years that he was racing clean, but now he and his lawyers say the suit is unreasonable as the US Postal Service must have known the team was doping.
The US Postal Service is a government agency. The US government’s lawyers recently subpoenaed Hansen to testify in a deposition this month. The rider’s attorneys are trying to block this, asking a judge to stop it from proceeding.
They said that she knows nothing, but the US government argues differently in the latest court documents. It wants to see what she knows in relation to what it terms “Armstrong’s character for untruthfulness.”
It then goes on to give an example. “Hansen has admitted to conspiring with Armstrong to lie to Colorado police officers in the hope that Armstrong could avoid liability for a late-night automobile collision with a parked car,” the attorneys stated, referring to a car crash in December.
“Additionally, any knowledge Hansen has concerning other instances of Armstrong’s untruthfulness, including about his doping activities and concealment campaign, are properly discoverable.”
The December car crash occurred when Armstrong was behind the wheel, but Hansen initially claimed she was driving. After this was proven not to be the case, Armstrong pleaded guilty to careless driving.
The US Postal Service paid over 30 million dollars in sponsorship to the team. Under laws relating to Qui Tam lawsuits, he and the other defendants could be liable to triple damages – in other words, almost $100 million – if they lose the case.
The US government attorneys also included a transcript of a April 2 deposition by another former US Postal Service rider, Tyler Hamilton. He was called to give evidence in relation to a confrontation with Armstrong in Aspen in 2011.
On that occasion the now-deposed seven times Tour de France winner berated Hamilton in a restaurant.
Government attorneys referred in part to this in their document submission.
“Hansen has been in a relationship with Armstrong since 2008 and, during the period of their relationship, Armstrong engaged in conduct that is unambiguously relevant to this litigation — most notably, his attempts to silence anyone who knew about his doping,” they stated.
“During their relationship, Armstrong also was the subject of three investigations, has been a defendant in six lawsuits, and was stripped of seven Tour de France titles, all because of his doping and related fraudulent conduct. Hansen’s suggestion that she `knows nothing’ related to Armstrong’s doping and concealment is implausible.”