Lance Armstrong Sued by U.S. Government Over Postal Service Sponsorship Money

Disgraced cyclist won his seven Tour de France titles as a member of the U.S. Postal Service team and Justice Department is seeking up to $100 million in damages

By Natalie Finn Apr 25, 2013 12:25 AMTags
Lance ArmstrongRobert Laberge/Getty Images

Lance Armstrong's legal troubles continue.

Count the government among those piling on the disgraced cyclist, with the Justice Department filing what could be a $100 million lawsuit against Armstrong that states he was "unduly enriched at the expense" of the United States Postal Service.

The 41-year-old athlete won six of his seven Tour de France titles as a member of the USPS Pro Cycling team, which received roughly $40 million in sponsorship money during his championship run, according to court documents filed Tuesday night (just meeting its deadline to take action against Armstrong) in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and obtained by CNN.

Armstrong alone was sponsored to the tune of $17 million, the suit states.

Citing the Fair Claims Act, the government is looking to recover triple the amount of what the USPS paid out to Armstrong's team, per the suit. The complain also alleges that Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs—which the team denied during the years in question—constituted a breach of contract.

Armstrong was infamously forced to give back all seven of his Tour titles and millions of dollars in prize money after being accused of doping his way to victory—an accusation he copped to during a lengthy interview with Oprah Winfrey in January. 

Citing the Winfrey interview, the federal suit states: "In particular, he admitted having engaged in banned practices during each of the seven Tour de France races in which he competed from 1999 to2005, including the six in which he raced as a USPS rider."

His fellow defendants in the suit include the USPS team management company Tailwind Sports LLC and former team director Johan Bruyneel.

In response to the suit, Armstrong attorney Elliot Peters told ESPN: "The U.S. Postal Service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship of the cycling team. Its own studies repeatedly and conclusively prove this. The USPS was never the victim of fraud. Lance Armstrong rode his heart out for the USPS team and gave the brand tremendous exposure during the sponsorship years."

Armstrong was the target of a lengthy federal criminal investigation, but charges were never filed and the case was closed in February 2012.