Today in “Boy, Lance Armstrong has some balls, huh?” (which is ironic, because his balls are likely very small at this point), we bring you the
Tour de France winner’s defense of the false claims lawsuit that the U.S. government filed against him.
If you didn’t know, the Justice Department teamed up with former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis in a lawsuit that says Armstrong violated his contract with the Postal Service and was “unjustly enriched” when he cheated to win the Tour de France. The government says it paid Tailwind Sports Corp. and predecessor companies about $40 million from 1998-2004, and, guess what, part of the contract stipulates that the team can’t use substances banned by the sport.
The bulk of the Armstrong’s team response is that this claim comes too late and falls outside the statue of limitations. But strangely, that’s not how the defense begins (emphasis ours):
The government named its consideration in the sponsorship agreements that form the basis for this suit: tens of millions of dollars’ worth of publicity, top billing on Armstrong’s and his teammates’ jerseys, exposure to over 30 million spectators at international cycling events, hundreds of hours of television coverage, and brand exposure in every major American newspaper. In its complaint, the government does not deny that it received each and every one of these benefits.
The government alleges that a single fact was hidden, and relies on that allegation to justify sitting on its claims for a decade: The Postal Service Cycling Team, like many other teams in the peloton, was doping. But the government is unable even to feign surprise at this alleged revelation. Instead, the government admits in its complaint that—during the very period it was enjoying the full benefits of its sponsorship agreement—it was well-aware of intense national and international media coverage of the team’s doping and widespread doping throughout the sport, and even that French authorities had opened an “investigation into allegations that the [Postal Service] cycling team used performance enhancing drugs.”
Wow. So even though Lance Armstrong adamantly denied doping for more than a decade (including that now-infamous Nike ad), it was the Postal Service’s own fault for giving him the money. It’s not like Armstrong was perceived as a heroic inspiration to athletes everywhere, who didn’t take kindly to being accused of taking performance enhancing drugs.
Saying “you should have known I was a liar and cheater” has to be one of the most bizarre defense tactics ever. Did the U.S. government prosper from having Lance on the team? Of course. We all felt like winners back when Lance was overcoming cancer and proving himself one of the greatest athletes of all time. Except that we were misled. By you, Lance. Strangely, The Onion — of all outlets — probably has the most accurate take on this sort of thing.
Photo via Getty