Tour de France 2005 - 20e etappe
  • Steve G

    Qui Tam… I had to use Google-Fu.
    So does Landis stand to gain from all this?

    • Hooty

      If memory serves, Landis stands to gain 1/3 of any settlement under US federal whistleblower laws.

      • ed

        i wish there was a USPS reunion for a fondo somewhere – lance, tyler, george, JV, eki, ticky beltran, che chu ruberia, JV, floyd, heras and johan driving the car. would be interesting who would fetch the biddons. maybe some races against some other teams – ONCE, Kelme, Telekom, Rabobank – masters pro cycling circuit that would be cool.

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      to add to this weirdness, back in the time before Oprah I read somewhere that Landis was “loaned” money by someone at Tailwind for the Free Lloyd Fund… (maybe good will money for a mate in distress, maybe to hush the waters a bit) So it’s kinda funny that he could win the case and make a repayment to Lance’s partners.

      What a tangled web.

      • jules

        well they didn’t loan him the money out of any belief he was innocent :)

  • jules

    I’ve posted this opinion before, but I would hope the Qui Tam case collapses. if Lance doping was fraud, then what is all of the skulduggery that bankers engaged in leading up to the GFC (and probably still today)? our obsession with doping as a ‘special’ category of fraud and cheating has clouded our judgment. I agree with Lance that it’s a witch hunt.

    • Tim

      So we should let criminals get away with crimes because there are worse criminals out there that aren’t being prosecuted? Sounds like a good idea to me….. ;)

      • jules

        if we follow your approach, prosecutors are free to select which criminals piss them off the most and pursue them for their own gratification, ignoring all the other ones.

        the obvious solution is to pursue fraud in a consistent, equitable manner. that doesn’t necessarily mean letting Lance off scot free.

        • Whippet

          Jules, that is exactly how it works in the USA. Prosecutors have ‘discretion’ to pursue they cases they prefer. This inevitably leads to biased outcomes, e.g. look at the prosecution of African American crimes vs. Anglo American, and also the paucity of corporate criminal cases.

          • jules

            I don’t doubt it. it’s wrong though.

          • Dave

            There’s also the not insignificant matter of devoting resources where they believe there is the combination of the case being more likely to succeed and the result being more significant.

            A good example from recent times in Australia is container deposit legislation. This was successfully introduced in SA decades ago, and ratified in the courts fairly promptly. Then when the Victorian state government finally attempted to introduce a copy of it a couple of years ago, Coca-Cola defeated it not by winning the court case but simply by out-lawyering the government.

            • jules

              fair point. but what chance does the US govt have against Lance? they must prove he defrauded the US Postal Service. the problem is – the US Post wasn’t competing clean against Lance in the Tour de France. they were merely sponsoring him and accumulating accolades on the back of his tremendous success. so of what have they been defrauded? have people stopped using the mail service after Lance was finally caught?

              • tj

                I believe a study was done that showed that the USPS profited from the sponsorship. The only reason why this case has any standing whatsoever is that the whistleblower laws do not require any proof of damages, only illegality. Nor do they require that the person making the claim be an innocent party to the whole process.

                • jules

                  yes but I understood the penalties to be damages caused by the fraud. if USPS profited from the fraud, then what would the penalty be? I may have got that wrong but that’s what I took from previous readings/articles.

                • Whippet

                  Qui Tam is another name for the False Claims Act. From the latter name, you can see the relevance. I’m not being paid by any of the parties, so I won’t bother to dig deeply into the facts. But, from what I know, the US government and Landis (it is also called the ‘whistleblower act”) are basically arguing the Armstrong lied about doping, covered up doping acts, and bribed the UCI to be complicate. The UCI more or less agreed that they ignored blood values from Armstrong that were consistent with doping. I won’t comment on the moral issue here, but I think the statute doesn’t require that the plaintiff have clean hands. In short, the case is about whether Lance lied and covered up his doping, not whether USPS profited.

              • tj

                I believe a study was done that showed that the USPS profited from the sponsorship. The only reason why this case has any standing whatsoever is that the whistleblower laws do not require any proof of damages, only illegality. Nor do they require that the person making the claim be an innocent party to the whole process.

              • Ed

                You misunderstand Government my friend… you’re being far too practical in the matter. In terms of fraud, US Postal are now seen to have invested in a fraud, they therefore are potentially liable themselves in the eye’s of the taxpayer, that’s the issue. $100m, peanuts… this is political buddy, the US Gov against Lance… I’ll back the US Gov every time. The only thing Lance’s people have working for them is incompetence, not bad odds I’d say.

    • Dave

      I hope that Armstrong gets F’d in the A for $100M AND that other fraudsters get dealt with too. I will of course be far more satisfied with one happening than zero.

      In any case, he’s being pursued in a civil case, not a criminal one.

    • Rodrigo Diaz

      Few things….

      I assume we are mostly rational people here and therefore we don’t believe in witchcraft. Sure, some people may believe they have powers but most of us would laugh. Except when they get tortured and burnt for allegedly hexing crops and giving people the evil eye curse.Witchcraft is not a crime in most civilized places, so logically a witch is for legal purposes a fantasy, a convenient label to unlawfully prosecute someone with a fictitious denomination.

      There are, however, cheaters and fraudsters. LA and his cronies are that. So it can’t be a “witch hunt” because these are actually perpetrators of the crimes they are accused. They are not even scapegoats, who by definition are innocent of their accusations and made to exculpate the sins of the guilty. If you want to sympathize with Armstrong, maybe the best we can come up is “being made an example”.

      So unto the case itself: it’s a travesty that Landis can profit from this, but that doesn’t mean criminals shouldn’t be prosecuted. Beyond the alleged damages, the most problematic thing is the delicate case of perjury where Armstrong denied all these things under oath. Sure, you can claim any sort of mitigating circumstances but courts (and countries) don’t like it when you lie to them under oath. Understandably, if you consider that these are the basis for modern law (as opposed to, you know, extracting confessions via torture).

      Bankers should also be prosecuted. And all other fraudsters. The main reason this is a “special” category of fraud is not doping, it’s because Lance is a celebrity. And that makes all the difference and exacerbates the problems with this cases (see OJ Simpson, A. Hernandez, Marion Jones).

      I remember reading somewhere that Landis was lent by some of Lance’s business partners (Weisel or Stapleton) during the Free Floyd Fund days.. So maybe he can use the Qui Tam settlement to pay them back. What a mess.

      • jules

        that’s an eloquent post Rodrigo and I take your point on witchcraft. however, while conceding the point on nomenclature, it doesn’t change my mind on the point that Lance appears to have been singled out. I agree that the reason is likely associated with the fact he was a celebrity. I disagree that’s any kind of justification. OJ Simpson sliced up 2 people into little pieces – there are no comparable cases that prosecutors let slide. the Marion Jones case is perhaps more relevant – she was jailed for perjury or similar. I agree at face value Lance seems to me to have committed a similar crime.

        but – as far as I can tell – that’s not what this case is about – it’s about fraud and alleged losses incurred by the USPS. none of the posturing about Lance’s unethical or even illegal acts that are not specifically categorised as fraud are relevant here. only fraud. demonstrating that Lance is generally a ‘bad guy’ is easy, but I suspect would not be allowed any, or much court time from the judge in this case.

        • Rodrigo Diaz

          Sorry I wasn’t clear – I don’t think the celebrity thing makes it justifiable! Just an explanation – in other words, if the biggest, most notorious guy (in a sports context) doesn’t get prosecuted – no one can justifiably be. Because the next guy, nowhere near this overexposed, can then claim he’s just been made an example because he’s a little fish. And so on. And for sure he was singled out; I am happy that guys like Marti, Ferrari et al. are exposed, but I’d like other weasels to be out of cycling. Like Weisel and Stapleton. It’s a bit like speeding, a bunch of guys do it but the guy in the red Ferrari (snicker) gets nailed.

          The alleged losses by usps are mere convenient charge. In that sense, it’s like getting Jimmy Hoffa for tax evasion – it’s the only thing that can conveniently stick and be prosecuted federally. In a reasonable world, he’d been nailed in 1999 and this all would have been dealt in the bud.

          • jules

            I’m still interested in whether USPS can substantiate losses, and the implications if they cannot. my simple understanding is that if they can’t, then they can’t prove fraud. Lance is not being tried for doping here.

            • Rodrigo Diaz

              I don’t think USPS needs to substantiate losses per se as in lost business or similar. One clause in the contract stipulated that the sponsorship deal would be terminated if the team was caught cheating. So the loss is the sponsorship “investment”, during the doping events and future renewal of the sponsorship deal.

              LA’s legal team has claimed that USPS knew of the doping and didn’t care, so there is no fraud – USPS fully knew and acquiesced.

              I am not a lawyer – this is from several summaries of the case, specifically Outside magazine’s.

              • jules

                again, seeking damages from breach of contract would be a civil claim, separate to the criminal one I thought prosecutors were pursuing – conspiracy to defraud the federal govt, or whatever.

                also, on the civil claim, my bush lawyer understanding is that terms of a contract can be broken (obviously) and that recourse is available via pursuit of damages. as per the fraud prosecution, you need to demonstrate damages caused by contract breach. merely arguing that the defendant breached contract terms, is therefore of poor character and should owe you money won’t cut it.

                • Rodrigo Diaz

                  Again, I’m not a lawyer – and from Outside’s summary:

                  ” Note that a False Claims Act is purely a civil action. There is no possibility of jail time.”

                  My understanding is that this is a lawsuit, in common law (not criminal law), that “happens” to have a public entity as a party of the suit. It is initiated by the Qui Tam party (Landis). The perjury ramifications are a different item.

                  Based on Armstrong’s lawyer arguments, I think the existence of damages are not being argued per se (they are on twitter and non-legal stuff I’ve read). In other words – cheating to maintain sponsorship is indeed fraud. Whether you or I think this is reasonable is irrelevant. This is “reasonable” if the parties were not so disproportionate – think about you’re sponsoring a junior and he cheated to keep it. I’d definitely look for reparations, since arguably I could instead be sponsoring a rhythmic dancer or a racquetball player.

                  It sucks that to be a cycling fan you need a ghetto pharmaceutical degree and a bush lawyer diploma. :(

                  • jules

                    I’m increasingly conscious that I may be getting this all wrong, but anyway, I have certainly read one opinion that questioned what the damages would be. In your example, the fact you could be sponsoring someone else – what are the damages you have incurred? Financially, I mean. you give your money to a cheat, or you give your money to an honest rhythmic dancer. the money is gone either way – your bank account looks the same in both cases.

                    sure, there are non-monetary damages – as you’ve been defrauded of that warm, fuzzy feeling you were seeking from sponsoring an honest athlete. but what value what a court put on that? I don’t know.

                    • Rodrigo Diaz

                      think about this. I am a local bike store I like a couple of juniors in my local weekly worlds crit. I want to support local cyclists but only have money to give to one, the most promising one. I will give him $2,000 per year plus a bike.

                      So I give him the money, and he ends up being a cheat. So my “damage” is not supporting clean cyclists. Now, I think under those boundaries I think I’m SOL and have no recourse.

                      But lets say I put my sponsorship agreement into writing, and state that one of the conditions is not cheating. The guy is caught doping – so now I can claim that he defrauded me for the term of the sponsorship deal, and I lost on the opportunity of supporting a clean athlete. Where this falls apart is if I did like the bunch of jackass managers in cycling, where everyone knows what’s going on but the praxis is not “don’t dope”, but don’t get caught.

                    • jules

                      again, my understanding is that you would be limited to claiming damages resulting from ‘I lost on the opportunity of supporting a clean athlete’. you still sponsored an athlete – you got your bike store’s name out there, people watched that cheat win races (maybe) and thought “woah, I’m gonna go to Rodrigo’s bike store on Monday and purchase $5,000 worth of stuff!” you profited handsomely from this arrangement – oblivious to the scurrilous cheating that your sponsored rider was perpetrating right under your very nose.

                      outraged – you sue, on the basis you never would have sponsored the cheating rider had you known he would have cheated, and that you even put such a clause into your sponsorship agreement. how would your disgraced rider defend this charge? of course, he would argue that you profited handsomely from this arrangement and are now shamelessly trying to double up on your winnings by claiming back the sponsorship money that yielded you such handsome dividends – which, Your Honour, I note Rodrigo has no intention of repaying this ‘dirty money’ that he claims offends him so much.

                      I reckon you’d be hard up against it..

                    • Rodrigo Diaz

                      I reckon we’d both be surprised, considering how much weaseling goes around in this. Specifically because it doesn’t appear to be material whether USPS got more or less exposure or benefits from this case, it is as if it didn’t matter that the cheating athlete won or not, or that people came in to buy the bike or not. But my guess is that would depend on the wording of the contracts, no? Because I could always argue that if I supported clean rider B I could still have had the same exposure and similar profits minus the “damages” from associating with a cheater. Heck, the LBS I worked for has had that problem (we sponsored a team that tripped the dope-o-meter, how screwed up is that for Master’s cycling?), but everything was on a handshake and really there was nothing to be gained from a lawsuit there. Say, what if USPS supported Slipstream instead of Tailwind? “Your honour, had we known the defendant was cheating, we would have pursued other sponsorship opportunities”. But that’s just spinning the rear wheels of the same truck you’re driving with the claim that I profited so I should shut up despite an agreement being broken.

                      Even the weasel Gianni Savio put similar conditions in his riders contracts. House can’t lose!

                      Note that we’re not discussing what’s fair anymore, just what’s legally binding. And that’s where we’re just talking out of our “bush lawyer” behinds because we don’t know this case. What we know is that it wasn’t dismissed outright, and that several of Lance’s partners have not been able to distance themselves from the case.

                      I’ll drop it here – needless to say I’m very interested in how this pans out but declare myself ignorant (but opinionated!)

                    • jules

                      I’m just enjoying discussing the matter on a Friday arvo while it appears to my colleagues that I’m hard at work. I could be wrong. In most civil cases, there is a settlement that distributes responsibility. I’d imagine Lance is preparing to take a haircut on this – but how much, or whether it goes to trial (I assume that’s not settled yet) is anyone’s guess.

                      What I find interesting is that previously. when he was still in denial, Lance didn’t have the defence of “they all did it and you knew that when you sponsored us”, but post-Oprah, he’s likely to run that argument pretty hard and given how much of an open secret doping was, how credibly can USPS plead ignorance?

                    • Rodrigo Diaz

                      agreed, and I think the Qui Tam guys are playing hardball with stuff like the hospital confession because of the increased exposure which may implicate Armstrong in other risks, like perjury.

                      I figure the short version of this is going to go like this:

                      LA’s legal team: We settle for $10M
                      Qui Tam team: No deal. We are going to court and argue for public exhibition of material evidence and witness testimony unless we settle for $25M.
                      LA’s Team: Erm… how about $15M?
                      Qui Tam: Are you seriously toying with the idea of the hospital story becoming public?
                      LA’s Team: Ok, Ok, $19M
                      Qui Tam: Deal.

                      Amounts above, of course, based on relative leverage (and how insane Floyd has gotten).

                    • Dave

                      This.

                      Qui Tam lawsuits mostly get settled for large sums, they don’t go all the way through to completion. People might wish to consider that we are talking about the US legal system here before wheeling out their qualifications as an Australian Bush Lawyer.

                    • jules

                      my bush lawyer qualifications aren’t really tied to any nationality or legal system

                    • Dave

                      You’ve demonstrated that quite well in this particular thread.

                    • jules

                      thanks, I like your posts too

                    • Rodrigo Diaz

                      Frag no, my “bush” lawyer qualification is with regard to a wild, unqualified, risible opinion. No outback here (neither Aussie nor American).

      • Dave

        This mention of the Floyd Fairness Fund or whatever it was called brings up an interesting point.

        Remember the case of Tonya Harding, the figure skater who hired someone to break the legs of her rival (inter-team rival for Olympic team selection) Nancy Kerrigan? Nike stood by her and contributed to her defence fund.

        Nike, having stood by Tonya Harding, still thought LA bad enough that they cut off his sponsorship (I was going to say cut off his balls, but they were a bit late for that) and forced Livestrong to disassociate from him in 2012 after the release of the USADA Reasoned Decision.

  • Derek Maher

    I guess its all about getting a slice of the $100 million dollars rather than any moral outrage.

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