Pro cycling cheat Lance Armstrong has settled his fraud lawsuit brought by the U.S. government for $5 million, it was announced on Thursday. Prosecutors were seeking up to $100 million in damages.
After fending off accusations for years that he had doped his way to seven Tour de France championships, Armstrong admitted in 2013 that he had used performance-enhancing drugs. He was stripped of those championships and banned from professional cycling.
Former teammate, doping accomplice, and subsequent whistleblower Floyd Landis will get $1.1 million of that sum, and Armstrong also will pay his legal fees.
Landis had filed the lawsuit against Armstrong in 2010. The federal government joined that Landis lawsuit, and claimed that Armstrong’s doping had violated his contract with his team’s US Postal Service sponsor, thereby defrauding American taxpayers.
As the US Postal Service paid Armstrong’s team $32 million over six years, the government was seeking triple damages — about $100 million.
Armstrong told the Associated Press:
“While I believe that their lawsuit against me was meritless and unfair, and while I am spending a lot of money to resolve it, I have since 2013 tried to take full responsibility for my mistakes and inappropriate conduct, and make amends wherever possible. I rode my heart out for the Postal cycling team, and was always especially proud to wear the red, white and blue eagle on my chest when competing in the Tour de France. Those memories are very real and mean a lot to me.”
The government prosecutor, Chad Readler retorted:
“No one is above the law. A competitor who intentionally uses illegal PEDs not only deceives fellow competitors and fans, but also sponsors, who help make sporting competitions possible.”
Armstrong has previously shelled out between $20 million and $36 million in other legal settlements with wronged sponsors.
The AP reports that, thanks to Armstrong’s investments and business dealings, the 46-year-old is still worth millions.