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Armstrong business associates agree conditional settlement in USPS case

The case would continue against Armstrong and Tailwind Sports

Bill Stapleton, Armstrong's longtime agent, and Barton Knaggs, Armstrong's longtime business partner, have agreed to pay $500,000 to the United States government and $100,000 to the law office of Floyd Landis's attorney as part of a conditional settlement in the whistleblower lawsuit brought by Landis. The US government has until January 30 to decide whether it will agree to the settlement.

Former Armstrong team-mate, Floyd Landis, filed his suit in 2010, with the US government joining the action last year. Landis is accusing Armstrong and others of defrauding the US government when Armstrong was riding for the US Postal Service (USPS) cycling team.

Under the False Claims Act, Landis, as the whistleblower who brought the case, would be eligible for a cut of any damages and those named in the lawsuit could potentially have to repay up to three times the $31 million the team received in sponsorship from the US Postal Service from 1999 to 2004.

However, USA Today reports that Stapleton, Knaggs and their agency, Capital Sports & Entertainment, could be released from the action in exchange for combined payments of $500,000 to the government and $100,000 to Landis’s attorney, Paul Scott.

If approved, the case would continue against Armstrong and Tailwind Sports – the company that managed the USPS cycling team, where both Stapleton and Knaggs served as executives.

While the federal government did not name Stapleton and Knaggs as defendants in its complaint, it will still have to approve the settlement after Landis named them in his. In court documents, the government said:

"The settlement agreement would require the dismissal of the action against the Settling Defendants, which, under the False Claims Act, requires the written consent of the Attorney General of the United States.

“The United States will require time to review the proposed settlement agreement, acquire necessary additional information from (Landis) and Settling Defendants, evaluate whether the settlement terms are in the interest of the United States, inform the officials within the Department of Justice who have authority to act in the circumstances, and obtain the necessary authorization to state the Government's position regarding the proposed settlement."

Landis, who went on to win the Tour de France with Phonak in 2006 – only to be stripped of the title after testing positive for elevated levels of testosterone – eventually confessed to doping in May 2010 after years of denial.

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