Lance Armstrong will be allowed to use the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs in professional cycling in the 1990s and 2000s as evidence in his defence in a $100 million lawsuit being brought against him by the US federal government.
The premise of the case is that Armstrong and the Tailwind Sports management company that owned the US Postal team, defrauded the government out of funds as Armstrong and other members of the team used performance-enhancing drugs.
At a hearing on Tuesday to determine what could be accepted as evidence at the trial in May, government officials sought to convince the judge that allowing Armstrong to say that "everyone was doing it" would "put the entire sport of cycling on trial", and mislead the jury into giving Armstrong a "free pass" just because other riders were also doping.
However U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper partly agreed with Armstrong, saying that he would allow the former rider to present evidence of widespread doping in professional cycling as part of his defence, with Armstrong's legal team likely to argue that the issue of doping didn't play a part in the US Postal Service's decision to sponsor the team.
"The endemic nature of PED [performance-enhancing drug] use in cycling creates a possible inference that the Government was aware of the widespread use of PEDs,” Cooper wrote in his ruling, as reported by USA Today (opens in new tab). "That...would similarly raise a possible inference that the USPS did not particularly care about any PED use by Armstrong — again, yielding an inference that PED use was not material to the Government’s funding decisions."
However the judge also said that this evidence should not be regarded as relevant to Armstrong or the team's decision to use performance-enhancing drugs or submit false claims to the US government.
USA Today (opens in new tab) also reports that Greg LeMond and Betsy Andreu, who the government says will offer first-hand accounts of Armstrong's doping, will both be able to testify in the case, something that Armstrong had sought to prevent, arguing that they had no relevant testimony to offer and had been vocal critics in the past.
The case had been scheduled to go before a jury in November, but has now been delayed due to ongoing legal wrangling, now being scheduled to take place in May 2018.
Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Join now for unlimited access
Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Henry Robertshaw began his time at Cycling Weekly working with the tech team, writing reviews, buying guides and appearing in videos advising on how to dress for the seasons. He later moved over to the news team, where his work focused on the professional peloton as well as legislation and provision for cycling. He's since moved his career in a new direction, with a role at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Spanish police crack down on doping ring, former Kelme coach questioned
Miguel Ángel López denies any involvement in statement
By Adam Becket • Published
Save up to 60% in Sigma Sports’ massive Black Friday sale
Get big discounts on bikes, electronics, cycling accessories and more
By Sponsored • Published
Eight of the best cycling films streaming on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+ and iPlayer
The best cycling-related films and documentaries available to watch online
By Tom Thewlis • Published
F1 star Valtteri Bottas spotted out riding with Lance Armstrong
Alfa Romeo driver joined controversial American for Colorado spin on Sunday
By Adam Becket • Published