The United States Department of Justice has decided to join a whistleblower lawsuit filed under the federal False Claims Act alleging that Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and Tailwind Sports LLC and Tailwind Sports Corporation (Tailwind) submitted or caused the submission of false claims to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in connection with its sponsorship of a professional bicycle racing team by regularly employing banned substances and methods to enhance their performance, in violation of the USPS sponsorship agreements.
Tailwind owned the professional cycling team from 1996 to 2004, which was sponsored by USPS. Between 2001 and 2004, USPS paid $31 million in sponsorship fees. From 1999 until 2004, Lance Armstrong was the team’s lead rider, winning six consecutive Tour de France titles as a member of the USPS sponsored team. Under the terms of the USPS sponsorship agreement, the cycling team was required to follow the rules set by cycling’s governing body, which prohibits the use of performance enhancing substances.
The whistleblower lawsuit alleges that Armstrong, as well as other riders on the team, caused the USPS agreement to be violated by regularly using banned substances to enhance their performance. Because these funds were provided by the federal government, the whistleblower lawsuit alleges that Lance Armstrong’s conduct violated the federal False Claims Act.
Lance Armstrong had long denied his use of banned substances while participating in professional cycling events. However, on the Oprah Winfrey show, Armstrong admitted to using banned substances during his career.
This case provides an example of an uncommon whistleblower lawsuit brought under the federal False Claims Act. The whistleblower lawsuit was filed under the federal False Claims Act by Floyd Landis, a former rider and teammate of Armstrong on the USPS sponsored team from 2002 through 2004.
The whistleblower lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is captioned United States ex rel. Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corporation, et al. The claims made in the qui tam complaint are only allegations and do not constitute a determination of liability.
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Ross M. Wolfe and the Weiser Law Firm litigate whistleblower lawsuits on a contingent fee basis, so whistleblowers do not pay attorneys’ fees or court costs unless there is a recovery.
Please contact Ross M. Wolfe if you would like to speak with a whistleblower attorney for more information about the whistleblower process, the federal False Claims Act or to schedule a meeting to discuss your potential case.