We've been fighting False Claims Act cases filed on behalf of whistleblowers that are looking out for the common good of society since 1986. The False Claims Act was initially passed in 1863 to reduce waste against the government and put control in the hands of everyday citizens. The False Claims Act, or Whistleblower Law, is also known as "Lincoln's Law" after President Lincoln pushed for its enactment during the Civil War. It was originally designed to help stop scams being committed on the Union Army by war supply companies selling old horses, sick mules, defective arms, and rotten food to soldiers.
It contains a provision known as Qui Tam, which allows private citizens to file lawsuits directly against companies and individuals who cheat the government. The whistleblower may be entitled to between 15% and 30% of the amount recovered by the government. Floyd Landis filed his whistleblower case against Armstrong and the United States intervened in the case to help pursue the damages that could reach or exceed $100 million because the evidence of Armstrong's fraud against the U.S. Post Office is so strong. His mea culpa to Oprah isn't going to help him.
Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today Sports explains why in his January 16, 2018, article:
Five years since his confession to Oprah Winfrey, Lance Armstrong is still paying a price for what he did.
“In excess of 100 mil,” Armstrong said in an e-mail to USA TODAY Sports on Jan. 4.
That’s the cost to him so far. But it’s not just because of his sins in cycling. He’s also paying a price for that confession. By admitting to his doping and dishonesty, Armstrong exposed himself to fraud lawsuits, including a government civil case that goes to trial in May that could cost him nearly $100 million more.
“I'll spend the rest of my life trying to earn back trust and apologize to people,” Armstrong told Oprah in the interview that aired Jan. 17 and 18, 2013.
“All that money he earned, he actually cheated to get it,” said Kathy LeMond, wife of former cyclist and Armstrong critic Greg LeMond. “He didn’t earn any of that honestly. It’s all ill-gotten gains.”
After five years, here’s a look at where things stand:
The apology tour
Armstrong, 46, once bullied and tried to ruin those who didn’t go along with his longtime lie that he never used banned drugs to cheat in races. Armstrong told Oprah he owed apologies to such people and specifically named Emma O’Reilly and former cyclists LeMond, Tyler Hamilton and Frankie Andreu, along with his wife Betsy Andreu. “I owe them apologies, and whenever they’re ready, I will give them,” Armstrong said then.
He’s had meetings with some of them, including O'Reilly, the cycling team masseuse he once sued and called a prostitute after she told the truth about him.
Some didn’t buy it, including the LeMonds, who met with Armstrong in 2015. Greg LeMond had said Armstrong tried to destroy him for years after he had dared to question Armstrong’s involvement with Michele Ferrari, a doctor linked to doping.
“I wouldn’t say it was a heartfelt apology,” Kathy LeMond told USA TODAY Sports last week. “It was a meeting, and I think he hoped to diffuse us continuing this.”
Andreu, an outspoken critic of Armstrong, had previously testified along with her husband in 2005 about Armstrong’s use of banned drugs. Both since were smeared by the cyclist. A day before the Oprah interview, Armstrong called the Andreus to say he was sorry, but Betsy Andreu said Armstrong refused to meet with her when she tried to see him in person.
“It didn't take long after Mr. Armstrong's call that he resorted to his same old tactics of going after my husband and me, publicly as well as privately,” Betsy Andreu told USA TODAY Sports last week. “This time around, however, people see him for the pathological liar he is. I tried to reconcile with him going so far as flying to meet with him in his hometown. When he refused to meet with me after I arrived in Austin, I knew his phone call was nothing more than a show for Oprah. I just wish he would now just leave us alone.”
USA TODAY Sports asked Armstrong for comment on his apologies and other aspects of his life since his confession.
“If this is really the direction you’re going in for any story I have no comment,” he wrote in an e-mail Jan. 12.
In reply, a USA TODAY Sports reporter told Armstrong he wanted his input on what these people have to say about him now.
Armstrong responded: “No comment. And no need to ever contact me again.”
USA TODAY Sports also contacted David Walsh, the Irish journalist who helped expose the Armstrong lie nine years before the confession. Armstrong sued Walsh and The Sunday Times of London for printing an article in 2004 that suggested Armstrong was doping – a case that ended when the Times agreed to pay Armstrong a million pounds.
After the confession, Armstrong made financial reparations to the Times. But Walsh said he did not get an apology from Armstrong despite the fact that he had told Oprah that he would apologize to him.
“My feeling is that Lance believed this was enough,” Walsh said of the reparations. “I never wanted an apology and never expected one – so I wasn't disappointed. But I thought his telling Oprah Winfrey that he would apologize to me was a very funny from the interview because he was almost coerced into saying something he never wanted to say.”
Mike Anderson, Armstrong's former assistant, now lives in New Zealand and says nothing happened when Armstrong visited there in 2016.
His conflict with Armstrong dates to 2004, when he said he found a performance-enhancing drug in Armstrong’s medicine cabinet. Armstrong fired him, and Armstrong’s attorneys since characterized him as a disgruntled employee out for financial gain. Anderson told the Associated Press in 2013 that Armstrong had made his life “very, very unpleasant.”
“I have no expectation, nor interest in a feigned apology by Lance Armstrong,” Anderson told USA TODAY Sports in an e-mail. “Perhaps I know him better than most, since I spent a lot of down time with him, and know the true measure of the man.”
...Shortly after his confession, the federal government joined a suit filed in 2010 by Landis, Armstrong’s former teammate. Landis is acting as a government whistleblower in the case and could get 25% of the damages if the government succeeds.
Landis’ attorney, Paul Scott, said Armstrong’s confession five years ago was calculated for his future benefit after Armstrong’s lies were no longer believable. A few months before the confession, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a massive file of damning evidence against him in 2012. The evidence was so strong that virtually all of his sponsors and cancer charity, Livestrong, divorced with him soon after.
The government is suing Armstrong on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, which says it would not have paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team from 2000 to 2004 if it had known he was violating the sponsorship contract and cheating.
Under the False Claims Act, that amount could be tripled and add another big dent to Armstrong’s wealth. In his defense, his attorneys say the Postal Service received far more promotional value from the sponsorship than it possibly can prove in damages it suffered from the doping. Because of this, Armstrong might not have to pay much in damages, if any.
“We feel confident about our positions going into trial, as we have always felt confident about defeating this wrongheaded case,” Armstrong’s attorney Elliot Peters said in November.
If he loses, it still might not bankrupt Armstrong, who amassed decades of wealth from sponsors, races, books and public appearances before he received a lifetime ban from pro cycling in 2012.
Riley Allen: Armstrong's lawyers suggest that a fraud of this magnitude should be excused because the Post Office received such great alleged promotional value. What a joke. Sometimes, a veiled apology just isn't enough. Armstrong stole the "dreams" of many others, dreams they can never get back, and he singlehandedly trashed an entire sport. What's that worth? What goes around, comes around.