Will Justice Dept. Be Forced to Reopen Case against Lance Armstrong?

Sunday, October 14, 2012
Lance Armstrong


If former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong thought that his decision not to contest doping allegations brought by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) would be the end of his troubles, he may be in for a rude awakening. Legal observers believe that Armstrong may be liable, both civilly and criminally, for his doping and lying to cover it up.


Released last week, USADA’s lengthy “Reasoned Decision” to ban Armstrong from competition for doping includes sworn testimony from 26 people, including convicted “dope doctor” Michele Ferrari and teammates Frankie Andreu, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Jonathan Vaughters, and David Zabriskie. The decision details payments by Armstrong to Ferrari totaling more than $1 million for doping supplies and services, while Armstrong’s teammates testified that they saw Armstrong inject himself with banned, performance enhancing substances.


On the criminal side, a 20-month Justice Department investigation involving possible charges against Armstrong of mail fraud, drug distribution, money laundering and witness tampering could be revived in light of the newly revealed evidence. In February, U.S. Attorney André Birotte, Jr. announced the closure of the probe without charges even though investigators were still interviewing witnesses, a decision that itself prompted accusations of a politically motivated whitewash of the popular cyclist. Going forward, Armstrong’s possible continued popularity, as well as the high cost of prosecuting him, may render a decision to prosecute Armstrong—which would have to be made the Attorney General—unlikely.


Civilly, Armstrong’s testimony under oath in a 2005 Dallas arbitration hearing that he had never taken banned substances could lead to a civil suit by SCA Promotions, an insurance company that was forced to pay a $7.5 million settlement for bonuses he earned for winning the Tour de France. He could also be hit with criminal perjury charges. SCA, which could sue to recover the settlement amount, as well as the costs of the arbitration on the grounds that Armstrong committed fraud by testifying falsely, said through an attorney that “we will assess our legal options.”

-Matt Bewig


To Learn More:

Experts say Lance Armstrong Could Still be Prosecuted (Agence France-Presse)

Inside USADA’s case against Lance Armstrong (by Peter Barzilai, Steve Berkowitz, David Meeks, Brent Schrotenboer and Roxanna Scott, USA Today)

Reasoned Decision of the United States Anti-Doping Agency on Disqualification and Ineligibility (USADA) (pdf)

Was the Lance Armstrong Doping Case Whitewashed by U.S. Attorney While Investigation Continued? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)



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