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by Mark Zalewski
November 4, 2016
In today’s CyclingTips Daily News Digest: Haas on Lachlan Morton: ‘His potential is limitless if he wants it to be’; Armstrong appears in federal court as judge hears arguments; Helen Wyman posts update on medical condition; The Death of the Local Bike Shop?; Bike stolen from cyclist killed in hit-and-run; British Cycling emphasising ‘culture’ in search for performance director; Bjarne Riis becomes partner in Danish team Virtu Pro-Veloconcept; Stan Siejka Classic final race for Tasmanian trio of Goss, Sulzberger brothers; Trek issues recall of select Farley fatbike models; Cyclist crowdfunding South Pole record attempt; Research studies of air pollution affects high-speed cyclists; Researchers test altruism with staged bicycle accident; Strider Bike World Championship.
Lance Armstrong was in U.S. federal court on Wednesday as judge Christopher Cooper heard arguments from both sides over whether the federal whistleblower lawsuit brought against him by the U.S. Justice Department and Floyd Landis should proceed to trial. Armstrong’s defense team had filed motions for summary judgement over the summer to either have the entire case thrown out or significantly reduced, and the prosecution followed with its own motions, seeking a judgment in their favor or a full trial.
At the center of all the arguments is whether or not Armstrong and the management company behind his team, Tailwind Sports, defrauded the U.S. Postal Service, the team’s title sponsor, when it conducted its systematic doping program to cheat and then lied about it. Under the False Claims Act the government is seeking three-times the money spent in damages, and with the $32.3 million spent in sponsorship by USPS it would total nearly $100 million.
“Lance Armstrong created a flood of lies that saturated every invoice that was submitted,” U.S. Justice Department attorney Robert Chandler argued. “He lied directly to the Postal Service. He had others lie directly to the Postal Service on his behalf. He made countless public statements on television and to print reporters…. false statements perpetuating his lie that he wasn’t doping.”
Armstrong’s lawyers have a two-pronged defense argument. First, that the USPS actually received far more publicity than what it paid for, with the defense citing an internal USPS document that estimated its media exposure around $160 million. Second, that Lance himself is not monetarily responsible as the invoices for payment came from Tailwind and not him.
Landis was not in court on Wednesday, but as the original whistleblower in the case he would receive a portion of any cash. The judge will now have to rule on all the motions for summary judgment, which could take weeks or months. The outcome could range from tossing the entire case out to ordering a full trial.
Click through to read more at USA Today.