On Tuesday, Justice Department lawyers filed the government’s anticipated civil action against Lance Armstrong, also naming Tailwind Sports, which owned and operated the U.S. Postal Service cycling team, and Johan Bruyneel, who managed it.
In Our Own Words
A history of Lance Armstrong in the pages of Outside.
The government is joining a whistleblower action initiated by Floyd Landis in June 2010, and is seeking to recover triple damages on the $40 million that the Postal Service spent as a sponsor between 1998 and 2004. The complaint alleges that the defendants were “unjustly enriched” because Armstrong and other Postal riders cheated to win, with all hands repeatedly lying to assert that they raced clean.
Here is the full text of the 28-page filing, which goes into considerable detail about alleged cheating practices, some of which will be familiar to readers of the USADA report. Armstrong’s side of the story will be spelled out later, but Armstrong attorney Elliot Peters told the Associated Press that the complaint was “opportunistic and insincere,” maintaining that the Postal Service reaped ample financial gain from the partnership and was not defrauded.
The government clearly intends to stress that reputation, not just revenue, was an important part of the Postal Service’s arrangement with Armstrong. In 2000, for example, in the wake of French media reports asserting that Postal riders had used banned substances in the 2000 Tour de France, the Postal Service added new wording to its sponsorship agreement specifically charging Tailwind with maintaining the drug-free integrity of the team.