A federal judge on Monday refused to block the government's $100 million lawsuit against Lance Armstrong, putting the former cyclist on course for trial in a 2010 case stemming from his performance-enhancing drug use, the AP reports. The lawsuit was filed by Armstrong's former US Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis. The federal government joined in 2013 after Armstrong publicly admitted he cheated to win the Tour de France seven times from 1999-2005. Armstrong was stripped of those titles and banned from competition. Armstrong has also taken huge hits financially, losing all his major sponsors and being forced to pay more than $10 million in damages and settlements in a series of lawsuits. The Landis lawsuit would be the biggest by far, and the ruling from US District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington was a major setback for Armstrong with a trial most likely in the fall.
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. According to court records, the contract paid the team, which was operated by Tailwind Sports Corp., about $32 million from 2000 to 2004. Armstrong got nearly $13.5 million. 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. Landis stands to receive up to 25% of any damages awarded. Landis attorney Paul D. Scott said he was "delighted" to see the case move toward trial. "The finish line for Mr. Armstrong ... is fast approaching," Scott said.