Former pro cyclist Lance Armstrong announced Thursday he reached a $5 million settlement in the long-running False Claims Act case that former teammate Floyd Landis initiated in 2013 alleging Armstrong fraudulently misled their team sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service, about his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
The settlement comes as federal prosecutors who had taken up Landis’ case and Armstrong’s lawyers at Keker, Van Nest & Peters were approaching a May 7 trial date. Armstrong faced up to $100 million in potential liability at trial. In the wake of Thursday’s announcement, Armstrong’s lead lawyer, Keker Van Nest name partner Elliot Peters, spoke with The Recorder about the deal and some of the things he was looking forward to had the case gone to trial.
The Recorder: Why was this settlement the right move for Lance Armstrong?
Elliot Peters: Because he took a case where his exposure was $100 million and settled it for $5 million and put litigation out of his life. He can now move on with his life and enjoy it rather than continue to be a litigant with this big exposure potentially out there hanging over his head.
And also since 2013, Lance has tried hard to make amends with everybody including the Postal Service, and he’s happy to do that.
Is there part of you that wishes would have gotten to take thiscase to trial?
Was there any particular aspect of the trial you were looking forward to?
I think the case was basically hypocritical. The Postal Service benefited hugely from sponsoring the cycling team, particularly because it had Lance Armstrong on it.
Lance rode his heart out for the Postal Service team. He won seven straight Tour de Frances against a field of people, all of whom were doing exactly what he was doing. You’ll never hear, and you’ve never heard, another cyclist who raced against Lance saying, ‘He beat me by cheating.’ They all say, ‘He beat me. He was the best rider.’
So I thought the case was hypocritical.
But I was also looking forward to questioning some of the witnesses because the extent of doping in cycling—how obvious it was to the people who regulated the sport and the sponsors of the sport—it was so apparent that for all these people to turn around and point the finger at Lance after the fact was just incredibly hypocritical and I would have loved to have had the opportunity in a federal courtroom in Washington to have exposed that.
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