Lawyers for disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong want the United States Justice Department to stop questioning their client about his sex life as part of its civil fraud case against him.
The federal government sued Armstrong under the False Claims Act in 2013, saying he violated his contract with the United States Postal Service by using performance-enhancing drugs and cheating to win the Tour de France seven straight times. The Justice Department joined the lawsuit that was originally filed in 2010 by Armstrong's former USPS teammate Floyd Landis.
According to documents obtained by USA Today, the government wanted to know during a pretrial deposition last month if Armstrong had an intimate relationship with Stephanie McIlvain, a former representative for Oakley sunglasses.
Armstrong’s attorney asked the government’s lawyers to “confirm they would not ask similar questions of Armstrong or any other witness.” That request was denied, which led to Armstrong’s lawyer filing a request for a protective order this week asking to prevent lawyers from asking questions about Armstrong's sex life.
Armstrong’s legal team said the sex questions are “designed only to embarrass or annoy, and ought to be forbidden." The government disagrees, saying the relevancy relates to McIlvain's "bias."
McIlvain was with Armstrong in an Indiana hospital in 1996 when Armstrong, who was undergoing cancer treatment, allegedly admitted to his doctor and others that he used performance-enhancing drugs.
Years later, McIlvain testified in a different case that she did not remember any confession. But Armstrong’s former teammate, Frankie Andreu, and his wife, Betsy, said they were in the same hospital room and heard that confession.
The United States Justice Department is also seeking to question Armstrong’s domestic partner, Anna Hansen, as part of its case. Hansen is the mother of two of Armstrong’s children.
A judge ruled Wednesday that the government could take Hansen's testimony as long as it relates to her knowing about events related to the United States Postal Service cycling team sponsorship and the use of performance-enhancing drugs by Armstrong and his former USPS teammates.
Armstrong, 43, was stripped of all of his Tour de France victories and banned for life in 2012 after the United States Anti-Doping Agency issued a report detailing how Armstrong and his Postal Service teammates “ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
The USPS says they paid Armstrong $17 million and spent nearly $40 million appearing as the main title sponsor on several of Armstrong’s teams. The government wants at least triple the amount of the Postal Service’s sponsorship funds back from Armstrong, which means he could be paying more than $100 million in damages.
- Scooby Axson