On Thursday, scandal-plagued former bicycle champion Lance Armstrong agreed to pay the U.S. government $5 million, in order to settle a federal lawsuit that claimed that he committed fraud against his former sponsor — the United States Postal Service — when he used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) while competing. The news was confirmed by both federal officials and a lawyer representing Armstrong.
The lawsuit was originally filed by Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis, and it was later joined by the U.S. government. The suit sought $100 million in damages.
Chad Readler, who is the Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division of the Justice Department, said in a statement that people like Armstrong are not “above the law.” He further stated that the outcome of the lawsuit proves that the government will hold those who try to cheat it accountable.
Elliot Peters, who is an attorney who represented Armstrong in the case, said that Armstrong was happy to put the entire matter “behind him.” Peters went to say that the government settled because it could not prove its case that Armstrong’s actions caused the Postal Service damage. He also indicated that the parties came to a settlement ahead of a trial that was set to begin on May 7, and that this was the last unresolved legal matter relating to Armstrong’s doping scandal.
Armstrong, who is currently 46 years old, won the Tour de France — which is the most important race in professional bicycling — a record 7 times. In all but one of these races the Postal Service sponsored him.
In 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency stripped Armstrong of his cycling titles and also banned him for life from the sport. It further accused him, in a written report, of being behind one of the most elaborate doping schemes in the history of sports. A year later — in a television interview conducted by Oprah Winfrey — Armstrong admitted to using PEDs while racing.
Armstrong issued his own statement through his attorney, in which he said that he looks forward to dedicating himself to his children and his wife, as well as to his many ongoing projects, which include a podcast and both film and book projects.
A part of the settlement, Armstrong further must pay court costs for Landis in the amount of $1.65 million. Landis was also accused of doping and was stripped of winning the 2006 Tour de France.