Lance Armstrong has claimed his former sponsors, US Postal Service (USPS), should have known he was on performance enhancing drugs and got “exactly what it bargained for,” adding he should not be liable to pay them back for breach of contract.
“[They] wanted a winner and all the publicity, exposure and acclaim that goes along with being his sponsor. It got exactly what it bargained for," he said in papers filed in US District Court in Washington on Tuesday.
The statement forms part of his defense over the lawsuit brought against him by former team mate Floyd Landis and then taken over by the US government, which alleges he defrauded the USPS - an independent agency of the US federal authorities - out of its sponsorship money.
Armstrong received over $17.9m of the $41m in team sponsorship over two separate deals brokered in 1996 and 2000.
As well as maintaining USPS ‘liked’ the fact he was winning, even if he was on drugs, Armstrong also offers a multitude of reasons why the USPS should have known, or did know, about the culture of doping in cycling.
Armstrong’s lawyers state: “The government waited for over a decade to file suit against Lance Armstrong for one reason and one reason only: It got everything it bargained for from Armstrong and his cycling team.
“... It was well aware of intense national and international media coverage of the team's doping and widespread doping throughout the sport ...,” they said.
They argue that the government "did nothing" and "absolutely nothing" when it had knowledge of potential doping, choosing not to back out of its contract with Armstrong.
They concluded that it’s USPS’s own fault and that Armstrong is therefore entitled to keep the sponsorship money he received.
USPS told The Drum: “The Postal Service strongly supports intervention by the Department of Justice in this matter and a vigorous pursuit of this case. The defendants agreed to play by the rules and not use performance enhancing drugs."
It added: "We now know that the defendants failed to live up to their agreement, and instead knowingly engaged in a pattern of activity that violated the rules of professional cycling and, therefore, violated the terms of their contracts with the Postal Service. For that reason, the Postal Service fully agrees with the decision by the Department of Justice to seek appropriate damages under the False Claims Act.”
The case could be worth up to $120m if Armstrong is found liable under the False Claims Act.