DOJ to Join FCA Qui Tam Suit Against Lance Armstrong

As widely reported in the media, on February 22, 2013, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a Notice of Election to Intervene In Part in Floyd Landis’ False Claims Act qui tam suit against his former cycling teammate Lance Armstrong. The government alleges Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and Tailwind Sports “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.” In its press release, the government contends the USPS sponsorship agreements “required the team to follow the rules of cycling’s governing bodies, which prohibited the use of certain performance enhancing substances and methods.” The USPS paid the Tailwind-owned professional cycling team approximately $31 million in sponsorship fees between 1996 and 2004. Armstrong was the lead rider on the team and Bruyneel was the manager or directeur sportif. Bruyneel is alleged to have known “team members were using performance enhancing substances and facilitated the practice.”

At this time the government has declined to intervene and reserved the right to seek dismissal against others named in Landis’ claim, including defendants William Stapleton, Barton Knaggs, Capitol Sports and Entertainment Holdings, Inc., and Thomas Wiesel. The government has 60 days, or until April 23, 2013, to file its Complaint in Intervention.

The Landis suit raises a number of novel questions, which were discussed in an earlier post by Jonathan F. Cohn and Brian P. Morrissey.

U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins has lifted the seal on all matters going forward in the proceeding, which is captioned United States ex rel. Floyd Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corporation, et al., No. 10-cv-976 (RLW).

An unsealed copy of Landis’ Second Amended Complaint, also filed on February 22, 2013, can be found here.