The consequences of lying and cheating can be stark and unrelenting. Just ask Lance Armstrong.
On Friday, the US Justice Department joined in a multi-million dollar lawsuit brought against Armstrong initially in 2010 by former teammate Floyd Landis. The suit stems from claims that Armstrong and others, including his former manager, defrauded the United States Government. It proclaims that Armstrong and the other defendants consistently hid their doping from team sponsors because the contract between the US Cycling Team and those sponsors, which included the United States Postal Service, expressly prohibited the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The contract, which was in excess of $30 million, was for the team that Armstrong led from 2001-2004. It alleges that the team defrauded US taxpayers by violating the contract yet still procuring the sizable sponsorship funds. Ronald Machen, US attorney for the District of Columbia stated Friday
“Lance Armstrong and his cycling team took more than $30m from the US Postal Service based on their contractual promise to play fair and abide by the rules – including the rules against doping.”
WATCH the report from CBS News:
Armstrong’s attorney maintains that, while Armstrong had admittedly taken banned substances as a member of the USPS Cycling team, the suit still has no merit because “no harm” was done to the US Postal Service.
The suit was initiated by Landis in 2010, and seeks damages in excess of $100 million. Landis admitted to doping, and was stripped of his own 2006 Tour de France title. The former teammate-turned whistleblower was then repeatedly attacked in the public eye by Armstrong and his associates since coming clean. Armstrong has referred to Landis as a “drinker” who is “emotionally unstable,” among other things.
Just when we thought that Armstrong’s threshold for childish responses to those holding him accountable had reached a crescendo, this week he also refused to cooperate with the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) ongoing probe into the use of banned performance enhancing drugs in cycling.
In a statement by USADA CEO Travis Tygert, Armstrong had “led [them] to believe that he wanted to come in and assist USADA, but was worried of potential criminal and civil liability if he did so.” The USADA has deemed the doping program run by Armstrong, Landis, and teammates as the most sophisticated doping program in the history of sports.
So, Armstrong and his attorney expressed concern that if he cooperated with the USADA’s probe, he wouldn’t receive adequate protection from any criminal charges or civil lawsuits caused by his own wrongdoing. Again, Armstrong’s sense of ego and entitlement prevent him from taking personal responsibility and prompt him to refuse to cooperate with those charged with holding him accountable. His refusal also does a disservice to his sport as he refuses to aid the USADA in its attempt to level the playing field for athletes that train their whole lives and follow the rules.
In all his years of world-class competition, and even now in utter disgrace, Lance Armstrong still seems to have failed to learn what most of us learn before we even enter kindergarten: to play fair and not be a pathetic bully.