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Drug cheat Floyd Landis collects $1.1 million for blowing the whistle on Lance Armstrong

Floyd Landis, left, and Lance ArmstrongFloyd Landis, a self-confessed drug cheat, collected $1.1 million Thursday for blowing the whistle on Lance Armstrong’s illegal drug use.

In 2010 Landis filed a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act alleging his former teammate took performance-enhancing drugs and lied about it to the sponsors of their team, the U.S. Postal Service.

Armstrong cheated in six of the seven years he won the Tour de France, Landis claimed.

Armstrong Thursday agreed to pay the United States $5 million to resolve the lawsuit. Landis’ share of the settlement is $1.1 million.

The False Claims Act allow private parties to bring suit on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. 

The government can intervene in any whistleblower suit, as it did in this case.

The suit alleged Armstrong submitted millions of dollars in false claims for sponsorship payments to the USPS team.

Armstrong violated USPS sponsorship agreements by “regularly and systematically” using PEDs, the DOJ said. 

Armstrong also lied to USPS management and to the public. He denied his PED use so that USPS would renew its sponsorship of the team in late 2000.

He also lied so that USPS would “increase the sponsorship fees (and, by extension, Armstrong’s own salary),” the DOJ said.

Even after the sponsorship ended, Armstrong lied under oath about his PED use during a 2005 arbitration about his bonus for the 2004 Tour de France.

USPS sponsored the team from 1996 through 2004.

Armstrong sued the Times of London and one of its sources — a former team masseuse — for libel when they alleged he was using drugs.

He threatened other people with libel suits if they talked about his doping.

But in January 2013, Armstrong admitted to heavy PED use in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey.

A few months earlier, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Armstrong and his USPS teammates, including Landis, had run a “systemic, sustained and highly professionalized . . . doping conspiracy” designed to help Armstrong win the Tour de France. 

Following release of the report, international sports bodies stripped Armstrong of all of his competitive cycling results, including the seven Tour de France wins, and banned him from participating in competitive sports.

In 2010, Landis admitted to his own drug use. He told ESPN he used performance-enhancing drugs for most of his career.

Landis had denied cheating after he tested positive for synthetic testosterone at the 2006 Tour de France. For four years he fought to discredit the drug test.

But he eventually told about his use of testosterone and human growth hormones while he was riding for the USPS team.

The lawsuit was United States ex rel. Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corporation, et al., No. 10-cv-976 (CRC) (D.D.C.). 

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Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

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