February 22, 2013

US joins lawsuit against Lance Armstrong

The Associated Press

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In this June 14, 2003 file photo, U.S. Postal Service leader Lance Armstrong puts on the overall leader's yellow jersey after the 6th stage of the 55th Criterium du Dauphine Libere cycling race between Challes Les Eaux and Briancon, French Alps. Lawyers for Armstrong say the Justice Department has joined a lawsuit against the cyclist. The lawsuit alleges the former Tour de France champion concealed his use of performance-enhancing drugs for over a decade and defrauded his long-time sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service. (AP Photo/Patrick Gardin, File)

The government must prove not only that the postal service was defrauded, but that it was damaged somehow. (backslash)

Studies done for the postal service conclude the agency reaped at least $139 million in worldwide brand exposure in four years — $35 million to $40 million for sponsoring the Armstrong team in 2001; $38 million to $42 million in 2002; $31 million in 2003; and $34.6 million in 2004.

The government could counter that all of the recent controversy tarnishes the whole sponsorship and has damaged the postal service.

But the USPS sponsorship ended long ago and relatively few people reading stories about the current controversy are associating Armstrong with the post office. Armstrong's last sponsor for his final two Tours de France was Radio Shack, in 2009 and 2010.

The government has a potentially strong weapon on its side: An argument could be made that until recent months there was an active, ongoing conspiracy to cover up Armstrong's alleged fraud. If the case ever goes to trial, that argument could persuade a judge to allow in a huge amount of evidence on Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs dating back to the 1990s — evidence that would be barred from the government's court case as too old if there were no extended conspiracy.


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