Lance Armstrong must face U.S. doping lawsuit, judge rules
Lance Armstrong and the company that owned the U.S. Postal cycling team will have to pay a promotions company $10 million after losing an arbitration hearing.
ASPEN, CO - AUGUST 02: Anna Hansen Armstrong and Lance Armstrong attend Aspen Art Museum 2013 ArtCrush Summer Benefit at Aspen Art Museum on August 2, 2013 in Aspen, Colorado. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)
ASPEN, CO - AUGUST 02: Lance Armstrong attends Aspen Art Museum 2013 ArtCrush Summer Benefit at Aspen Art Museum on August 2, 2013 in Aspen, Colorado. (Photo by Leigh Vogel/WireImage)
PERRY, IA - JULY 23: Lance Armstrong (L) departs at the start of the third day of the RAGBRAI en route to West Des Moines on July 23, 2013 in Perry, Iowa. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 14: In this handout photo provided by the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah Winfrey (not pictured) speaks with Lance Armstrong during an interview regarding the controversy surrounding his cycling career January 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas. Oprah Winfreyâs exclusive no-holds-barred interview with Lance Armstrong, 'Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive,' has expanded to air as a two-night event on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network. The special episode of 'Oprahâs Next Chapter' will air Thursday, January 17 from 9-10:30 p.m. ET/PT (as previously announced) and Friday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The interview will be simultaneously streamed LIVE worldwide both nights on Oprah.com. (Photo by George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network via Getty Images)
21 Jul 1995: Lance Armstrong of the United States performs during Stage 18 of the Tour De France between Montpon Men. and Limoges in France.
22 Jul 1995: Lance Armstrong of the United States performs during Stage 19 of the Tour De France near the Lac de Vassiviere in France.
13 Jul 1995: Lance Armstrong of the United States performs during Stage 11 of the Tour De France between B. d''Oisans and St. Etienne in France.
Lance Armstrong talks at Nike Sportswear and Lance Armstrong Launch 'Stages' Global Art Exhibition at Nike Sportswear at the Montalban Theater on March 7, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Brian To/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 07: Athlete Lance Armstrong attends Nike Sportswear and Lance Armstrong's launch of 'Stages' Global Art Exhibition at Nike Sportswear at the MontalbÂ n Theater on March 7, 2009 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Redmond/WireImage)
25 Jul 2001: Lance Armstrong of the USA and the US Postal team on stage 16 of the Tour de France from Castelsarassin to Sarran in France. Mandatory credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport
30 Sep 2000: Lance Armstrong of the USA celebrates bronze in the Mens Road Cycling Individual Time Trial at Moore Park on day 15 of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. \ Mandatory Credit: Mike Powell /Allsport
17 Jul 2001: Lance Armstrong of the USA rides into a turn during the Tour de France from Aix-Les Bains to Alpe d''Huez in France.Mandatory Credit: Doug Pensinger /Allsport
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 23: Lance Armstrong (L) of the United States Postal Service Cycling Team, and five time winner of the Tour de France, rides with former Olympian Dave Lettieri training during Media Day January 23, 2004 in the region around Solvang, California.(Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 23: Lance Armstrong of the United States Postal Service Cycling Team, and five time winner of the Tour de France, speaks during a press conference on media day January 23, 2004 in Solvang, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 23: Lance Armstrong of the United States Postal Service Cycling Team, and five time winner of the Tour de France, gets a tire change while training during Media Day January 23, 2004 in the region around Solvang, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
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By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Thursday rejected Lance Armstrong's bid to dismiss a federal whistleblower lawsuit claiming that he and his former cycling team, which had been sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, had defrauded the government through a scheme to use banned, performance-enhancing drugs.
U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins in Washington, D.C., said the complaints brought by the government and Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis were "rife with allegations that Armstrong had knowledge of the doping, and that he made false statements to conceal the doping and the attendant obligation which would have resulted if the government had known of the doping."
Armstrong, 42, was stripped of his seven victories at the Tour de France and banned for life in 2012 by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency after it accused him in a report of engineering one of the most sophisticated doping schemes in sports.
Armstrong admitted in January 2013 to doping, and faces several civil lawsuits that could drain the cancer survivor's wealth accumulated when he was among the world's most popular and successful athletes.
Damages in the case before Wilkins could top $100 million, court papers show.
Robert Luskin and Elliot Peters, two of Armstrong's lawyers, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
They have argued that the Postal Service benefited from the valuable exposure it got from its sponsorship, and that the lawsuit had been brought too late.
Paul Scott, a lawyer for Landis, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. U.S. Department of Justice spokesman Peter Carr declined to comment.
Landis, who lied about his own doping before confessing, originally brought the lawsuit in 2010 under a federal law, the False Claims Act, that lets whistleblowers pursue fraud cases on behalf of the government, and obtain rewards if successful.
The Justice Department joined the case in February 2013, hoping to recover some of the estimated $40.5 million that the Postal Service paid from 1998 to 2004 to have Armstrong and his teammates from the now-defunct Tailwind Sports Corp wear its logo during races.
Court papers submitted by Armstrong's lawyers this month show the government has been seeking to recoup more than $105 million from Armstrong, Tailwind and former team manager Johan Bruyneel.
This sum reflected triple damages under the False Claims Act for claims made after June 10, 2000, which was 10 years before the lawsuit began, the papers show.
In Thursday's decision, Wilkins also denied Bruyneel's request to dismiss the lawsuits against him.
Rebecca Worthington, a lawyer for Bruyneel, was not immediately available for comment.
The case is Landis v. Tailwind Sports Corp et al, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 10-00976.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Howard Goller and Richard Chang)