A federal judge on Monday rejected cyclist Lance Armstrong's attempt to knock out a US government lawsuit to collect $100 million it says he owes taxpayers for lost promotional value after he admitted doping while sponsored by the mail service.
The ruling marked a major victory for the government since it joined a 2010 whistleblower lawsuit brought by Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis.
The sum of almost $100 million is the amount that a jury could decide Armstrong and Tailwind should pay in damages for violating the FCA.
The United States Postal Service sponsored Armstrong's team during six of his wins, to the tune of $32.3m, meaning the federal government has been able to sue to former champion for damages.
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Armstrong had attempted to have the suit thrown out, but U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper sided with the government.
That would also leave Landis - himself stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping - in line for a bumper payday, since as the initiator of the action he would be entitled to a substantial percentage of any moneys recouped by the government.
Eliot Peters, a lawyer for Armstrong, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The money could be tripled to just shy of $100 million under the False Claims Act.
A judge approved the case to go to trial.
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However, the government presented evidence attributing negative messages about USPS to Armstrong's doping and subsequent fall from grace.
"Giving Armstrong "credit" for the benefits he delivered while using (performance-enhancing drugs) could be viewed as an unjust reward for having successfully concealed his doping for so long", Cooper wrote. "The same could be said of Landis, whose role in this entire affair some would view as less than pure".
But Cooper said that argument should be decided by a jury at trial.
His personal story of recovering from testicular cancer that had spread to his brain, while forcefully denying persistent rumors of doping, had built his Lance Armstrong Foundation cancer charity into a $500 million global brand and turned him into a celebrity.
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