Lance Armstrong's legal team said in a motion filed Tuesday that the U.S. Postal Service, the long-time sponsor of his cycling team, should have known that he was doping, reports USA TODAY's Brent Schrotenboer.
Armstrong said that doping allegations against him were well known, but the USPS chose to continue their relationship because it benefited them. The comments came in Armstrong's motion to dismiss a civil fraud lawsuit the U.S. government had filed against him in April.
From Armstrong's motion (via Schrotenboer's report):
"Although the government now pretends to be aggrieved by these allegations, its actions at the time are far more telling: Did it immediately fire the Postal Service Team? Did it suspend the team pending an investigation? Did it refer the matter to its phalanx of lawyers and investigators at the Department of Justice for review? It did not.
"Rather than exercise its right to terminate the sponsorship agreement, it instead renewed its contract to sponsor the team. The rationale behind the government's decision is obvious. Armstrong had recently won the 2000 Tour de France. The government wanted a winner and all the publicity, exposure, and acclaim that goes along with being his sponsor. It got exactly what it bargained for."
Armstrong, a former seven-time Tour de France champion, had long denied allegations of steroid use. He attacked detractors and became one of the most famous athletes in the U.S. and around the world. But last January, in an interview with Oprah, he admitted to an extensive doping regimen. He was stripped of all seven championships.
The U.S. government subsequently sued Armstrong under the False Claims Act, alleging that it would not have paid $40 million in sponsorship from 1995 to 2004 had it known the team was cheating. If the government wins its lawsuit, it could win triple damages - $120 million.