Cycling: Lance Armstrong fails to block US$100m lawsuit

Lance Armstrong takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept 22, 2010.
Lance Armstrong takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York on Sept 22, 2010.PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A judge on Monday (Feb 13) cleared the way for the doping-disgraced cycling icon Lance Armstrong to go to court, saying the US authorities' allegations against him merited trial.

The US Justice Department is seeking nearly US$100 million (S$142 million) in damages from Armstrong, charging that he cheated the government when the US Postal Service sponsored the team he led.

The decision by US District Judge Christopher Cooper, in Washington, DC, comes as a major blow to Armstrong, who had requested the case be thrown out. He claims the lawsuits were unfounded and that the US Postal Service benefited from his lucrative sponsorship deal.

Cooper overruled that argument in his 37-page decision, arguing that the issue of injury suffered by the United States must be decided by a jury.

The US Postal Service paid more than US$32 million to Tailwind Sports Corporation, the now-defunct Lance Armstrong cycling team.

Former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis filed suit in 2010 for fraud and was subsequently joined by the government under the Misrepresentation Act, which authorises individuals to sue a person or company for misleading the federal government.

Armstrong in October 2012 was stripped of his seven victories (1999-2005) in the Tour de France after the American Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) accused him of actively taking part in one of the most sophisticated doping programs ever seen in sports.

After years of denials and despite his suspension for life, Armstrong in January 2013 finally acknowledged to American television host Oprah Winfrey that he took part in doping.