An unidentified source close to Lance Armstrong's legal defense team told USA Today that his lawyers will argue that much of the case against the former Tour de France champion is beyond the statute of limitations. Cyclist Floyd Landis filed the case in 2010 under the False Claims Act. It argues that Armstrong and others doped in violation of their USPS contracts and that the government should get its money back. The U.S. Department of Justice announced late last week it would join the suit against Armstrong.
USPS paid $31 million to sponsor Armstrong's team from 2001 to 2004. Under the False Claims Act, Landis can seek to recover triple that amount for the government—possibly more than $90 million, with Landis getting at least 25 percent as the whistleblower who brought the case to the government's attention.
Armstrong's attorneys will argue that the whole case should be thrown out because of the six-year statute of limitations, which started when Landis filed the case in 2010. At best, they will say the six-year statute bars all but one year of the USPS sponsorship from the suit—2004. In response, Anikeeff said the government is expected to argue that the fraud was concealed and that the six-year rule shouldn't apply.
Armstrong's legal team will also argue, according to the source, that doping rumors were swirling around the USPS team early in the decade and the government should have investigated the cyclists then. Instead, they promoted the team.
"The law is that if the government knew of the fraud, you can't prosecute someone for fraud," attorney Tony Anikeeff told USA Today. "(The government's argument) will be that he denied it vociferously for years and kept them in the dark."
On Thursday, cyclist Floyd Landis, USADA CEO Travis Tygart, cycling reformer Jonathan Vaughters, and professor Thomas Murray, who is the chair of the ethical issues review panel for WADA, will talk at the Yale Law School about doping in cycling. The discussion will be chaired by Jacob Stewart Hacker, the director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale. Landis told Cycling News that he hopes that a discussion in front of a generation of young lawyers might lead to new solutions.
"It's just that until now there hasn't been any conclusion for the generation of riders I was involved with and things are ongoing and developing," he said. "Now I think it might not be a bad time to sit down and say here's where we think we are and here's what's been effective and what hasn't. It might be that bright and fresh perspectives from some law students will be effective."