Lance Armstrong has agreed to pay $5m to the US government and former US Postal Service (USPS) team-mate Floyd Landis to settle the whistelblower lawsuit that could have cost him $100m in damages.
Armstrong had been due to go to trial next month, but a deal was agreed yesterday.
US Justice Department lawyer, Chad Readler, said: "No one is above the law. This settlement demonstrates that those who cheat the government will be held accountable."
Landis brought the suit in 2010, alleging that Armstrong and others had misused federal funds, in the form of sponsorship money, to finance the doping programme that brought seven Tour de France victories between 1999 and 2005.
The US Department of Justice joined the action after Armstrong finally confessed to doping early the following year.
Landis told ESPN: "I really didn't want to relive it in a courtroom, and I don't think Lance did either, and I don't know that that would have really accomplished anything.
"Rather than going through that humiliation again, we're better off. I mean, it was up to Lance, but I think he probably feels the same way. He benefited more than everyone else and he's also paid more than everyone else.”
Betsy Andreu, wife of Armstrong's former team mate Frankie Andreu and a famously fierce critic of the Texan, felt rather differently.
"It's utterly shocking that the government settled for so little," she said.
"I would have liked to have been questioned under oath. That's my goal. And whether or not the jury would have convicted him would have been a different story, but it would have been nice to have my say under oath. He tried to destroy me."
Under the False Claims Act, the US Government can recoup up to three times the original amount at issue ($32.3 million) meaning that Armstrong could have faced a bill of close to $100 million had he lost.
Armstrong’s lawyers argued that he didn’t owe anything because the USPS made far more off the sponsorship than it paid.
The government argued that Armstrong had been “unjustly enriched” through the sponsorship while the negative fallout from the doping scandal had tainted the USPS’s reputation.
In July last year, Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's longtime agent, and Barton Knaggs, his longtime business partner, agreed to pay $68,000 to the federal government and $90,000 to Landis’s lawyers to get out of the lawsuit.
“I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life,” said Armstrong in a statement. “I’m looking forward to devoting myself to the many great things in my life – my five kids, my wife, my podcast, several exciting writing and film projects, my work as a cancer survivor, and my passion for sports and competition.
“There is a lot to look forward to. I am particularly glad to have made peace with the Postal Service. While I believe that their lawsuit against me was without merit and unfair, I have since 2013 tried to take full responsibility for my mistakes, and make amends wherever possible.
“I rode my heart out for the Postal cycling team, and was always especially proud to wear the red, white and blue eagle on my chest when competing in the Tour de France. Those memories are very real and mean a lot to me.”
Was gutted when I heard this news. Met him a couple of times over the years. Great fella.
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