While the court of public opinion may have finished ruling on Lance Armstrong months ago, the actual American court system appears to just be getting started.
Earlier this week Judge Robert L. Wilkins denied a request by Armstrong to throw out a civil case originally brought to court by Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis.
The case itself centres on Armstrong’s time as a rider sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. Landis was able to file a lawsuit on behalf of the federal government, claiming that Armstrong had defrauded the Postal Service by taking their sponsorship dollars while using PED’s to win races. This kind of whistleblower lawsuit is interesting in that it is not a criminal case, but rather a civil case where the government is considered a plaintiff. If the court eventually finds in favour of Landis and the government, Landis would be entitled to a small share of any damages paid by Armstrong.
Also of interest is the argument Armstrong attempted to use to throw the case out. According to the Wall Street Journal, Armstrong essentially tried to argue that he had not defrauded USPS, because USPS received the exposure and attention they had paid for regardless of whether Armstrong had been doping.
It’s an interesting tactic to say the very least. It’s easy to see, though, why Judge Wilkins decided to press on with the case. The False Claims Act, the law being used to bring this case to trial, clearly states that anyone who knowingly misrepresents him/herself to receive payment from the government is subject to punishment. Unless he’s got a tape somewhere of himself whispering “I use PED’s” into the ear of the Postmaster General, Armstrong is going to have a tough time beating this case.