Various publications are claiming that the US Government is joining the suit accusing Armstrong of defrauding taxpayers by using performance-enhancing drugs during his record-setting run at the Tour de France, which he won seven consecutive times.
The suit the Justice Department intends to add its weight to was filed three years ago by former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping, reports The Telegraph.
The Justice Department confirmed its involvement Friday afternoon, saying Armstrong, team manager Johan Bruyneel and team owner Tailwind Sports had “illegitimately procured” tens of millions of dollars.
“Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30 million from the U.S. Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules — including the rules against doping,” Ronald Machen Jr., U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, Armstrong’s spokespersons revealed that lengthy talks with the government had failed, writes CBS News.
“Lance and his representatives worked constructively over these last weeks with federal lawyers to resolve this case fairly, but those talks failed because we disagree about whether the Postal Service was damaged,” Armstrong attorney Robert Luskin said in a statement to reporters.
“The Postal’s Services own studies show that the Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship – benefits totaling more than $100 million,” Luskin added.
The cycling website Velo News reported earlier this week that that was Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, who wrote to Attorney General Eric Holder last month, asking the U.S. the government to join the Landis lawsuit.
A decision by the Justice Department to join the case “in order to get to the bottom (or top) of this massive fraud would also be viewed by the press and public as necessary and legitimate,” the letter claimed.
After denying for years that he did cheat, the cyclist finally opened up about it last month in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“This issue of performance enhancers, to me, we’re going to pump up our tires, put water in our bottles and, oh yeah, that, too, is going to happen. That was it,” he said at the time.
“I don’t know I have a great answer. This is too late, probably for most people, and that’s my fault. I view this situation as one big lie that I repeated a lot of times.”
He described himself as “a guy who expected to get whatever he wanted and to control every outcome” and added: “I’m a flawed character.”
Armstrong has already been banned for life, stripped of his all race wins and dumped by his sponsors but his problems are far from over.
Armstrong also accepted that, despite his admissions, he knows he will not be forgiven for his cheating.
The athlete said during the interview: “I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologise to people for the rest of my life.”