Lance Armstrong has reportedly gone to Oprah to come clean on his use of doping to win his seven Tour de France titles — sort of. Oprah says that he admitted to the use of the drugs but not quite as fully as she wanted. The admission is clearly calculated to allow Armstrong to compete in triathlons. However, there are an array of lawsuits facing Armstrong that raise some interesting questions.
Armstrong, 41, is banned for life from cycling and cannot compete in athletic events sanctioned by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency.
He repeatedly and passionately denied doping for years — attacking those who raised such allegations.
Now, the Justice Department is moving to join a federal whistle-blower lawsuit filed by former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis. He is also being sued by a Dallas-based promotions company for bonuses that he received for winning the Tour de France. The most interesting is a lawsuit by the British newspaper The Sunday Times to recover $500,000 paid to him to settle a libel lawsuit.
In a rare twist, the newspaper took out an advertisement suggesting questions to Oprah to ask Armstrong — questions that would clearly help it in its own lawsuit. The Brits clearly do not know that only Obama speaks directly to Oprah and Oprah only speaks directly to God.
Armstrong sued the Sunday Times and two of its reporters for an article in 2004 alluding doping. The newspaper reportedly settled for $1 million. In England, there are cases for such lawsuit to recover prior settlements. In the United States, it would be extremely difficult since the parties reached a voluntary agreement rather than litigate the truth of the matter.
The admissions by Armstrong therefore are quite risky. Oprah can give absolution but not protection from such lawsuits. Competing in triathlons would not appear to justify the risk.
The Landis lawsuit is also interesting. He is alleging under the False Claims Act that Armstrong and team managers defrauded the U.S. government when they accepted money from the U.S. Postal Service. Thursday is the deadline for the United States to join the lawsuit and it is expected to do so. That raises a question of Armstrong’s legal advice on the matter. Why go to Oprah before the deadline for the United States instead of waiting a couple of weeks? The Oprah interview would appear to all but guarantee the intervention of the United States. Of course, the intervention could reduce the recovery for Landis who would be entitled to 30% of any money the government recovers. The Postal Service paid a total of $30.6 million to the team’s management
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Betsy Andreu, Lance Armstrong Whistleblower, On Oprah Interview: ‘He’s A Master Manipulator’
“Betsy Andreu, the wife of Lance Armstrong’s former teammate, joined HuffPost Live Friday to react to Armstrong’s doping confession to Oprah in an interview airing Thursday night. In 2006, Andreu testified that she heard Armstrong admit to his cancer doctors a decade earlier that he had used EPO, growth hormone and steroids. After her testimony, Andreu became one of Armstrong’s many targets, calling her a liar, crazy and a “b..itch.”
In one of the more bizarre portions of the interview, Oprah asked Armstrong about Andreu and whether she was lying in her testimony about his doping admission in 1996. Armstrong replied “I’m not going to take that on. I’m laying down on that one. I’m going to put that one down. She asked me, and I asked her not to talk about it.” He told Oprah that when he called Andreu to apologize he told her “‘listen, I called you crazy. I called you a b…itch. I called you all these things, but I never called you fat’.”
Andreu told host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin that she didn’t believe that Armstrong was being 100% truthful in his answers to Oprah. “Lance is a master manipulator of the media,” Andreu told Ahmed, “and that’s why all these years, he’s gotten away with it. Look at how many people are now saying, ‘Oh my gosh. I had no idea he was the cheat. I had no idea he was such a bully. I had no idea he was so mean.’”
Dave Zirin… on Democracy Now! this morning.
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