In Brief

Lance Armstrong could be ruined by $100m US government lawsuit

Disgraced cyclist loses bid to block legal action by Floyd Landis and his team's former sponsor, US Postal Service

Lance Armstrong faces the prospect of "financial ruin" after he failed to block a $100m (£80m) lawsuit brought by the US government against him and his former team.

The claim, which dates back seven years, was initially brought by fellow cyclist Floyd Landis and relates to the sponsorship of Armstrong's team by the publicly funded US Postal Service.

"Landis, himself a former doping cheat who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title, sued Armstrong under the federal False Claims Act, alleging Armstrong and his team committed fraud against the government when they cheated while riding under the Postal Service banner," says ESPN.

The US Postal Service first sponsored Armstrong's team in 1996. It signed a new deal worth around $32m in 1999, after the cyclist won the Tour de France for the first time. It ran from 2000 to 2004.

"The law allows Landis and the government to sue to get that money back and for 'treble' damages, or triple the amount, and Armstrong could be forced to pay all of it," says ESPN. "Landis stands to receive up to 25 percent of any damages awarded." 

Armstrong, who was stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005 after he admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, had argued that the financial benefits of the sponsorship deal outweighed the costs thanks to the media exposure it earned the US Postal Service.

While, he tried to prevent a trial and applied to have the case decided by summary judgment, Armstrong now seems destined for a court appearance and could be ruined if the case goes against him, says the London Evening Standard.

"Armstrong's net worth was estimated at $125m at its peak but he is already thought to have shelled out £8m in damages and settlements," adds the paper.

"Armstrong had already put his £6m Austin home on the market last year as he began to feel the pinch following his admission, with the loss his sponsorship deals."

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