By Nigel Wynn
The United States Government has issued the latest salvo in the long-running battle with disgraced former cyclist and confirmed doper Lance Armstrong, branding the Texan a 'fraud'.
Armstrong is attempting to fight off a devastatingly costly lawsuit based on the claim that he defrauded the federal government by taking US Postal Service sponsorship money and doping himself to win the Tour de France.
Armstrong's defence is arguing that they must have known he was doping and didn't do anything about it. His defence also argues that the US Government "got what it bargained for". All this despite Armstrong vehemently denying and denying again that he had ever taken any form of performance enhancing drugs or blood doping. Until, that is, he admitted everything to Oprah Winfrey in a television interview in January.
"The Government did not get a 'winner', on the contrary, it got a fraud, and all of the publicity and exposure that goes along with having sponsored a fraud," American paper USA Today reports the Government said in a statement issued on Monday as part of its civil fraud lawsuit against Armstrong.
"That is decidedly not what the Government bargained for. The United States should have an opportunity to recover damages for the money that it paid in reliance on Armstrong's many lies."
"Now that he is being called to account for the damage he caused, Armstrong contends that his deceit should have been clear to everyone all along. In particular, he argues that the USPS should have known he was cheating as early as 2000 and, therefore, the Government may no longer seek to recover for the losses it suffered as a result of his lies. But the Postal Service, like millions of others, cannot be faulted for having been deceived by Armstrong."
Under the False Claims Act, the US Government filed a suit in April to reclaim $31.9m sponsorship money paid to Armstrong's team from the US Postal Service claiming it was obtained fraudulently. A penalty of up to three times that amount could also be delivered - up to $120m (£78m).
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