Depending on the viewpoint, former cyclist Floyd Landis is either a whistleblower seeking justice against Lance Armstrong or a bad character seeking money and revenge.
Or it can be both. But the federal government doesn’t want a jury to hear about the latter description as it pursues a $100 million civil lawsuit against Armstrong, Landis’ former cycling teammate.
The government is asking a judge to forbid issues about Landis’ character and motivation from being part of Armstrong’s trial in November. The government even said in new court filings that it does not intend to call Landis as a witness at trial.
The trial is not about whether “Floyd Landis is of good or bad character, or stands to gain from this action,” government attorneys wrote in the new court filings. “Armstrong should not be allowed to deflect the jury’s attention from his own misdeeds by putting Landis on trial and introducing evidence to cast him in a bad light. Such evidence proves nothing about Armstrong’s culpability, is unfairly prejudicial, and will mislead and confuse the jury. It should therefore be excluded.”
The government is suing Armstrong on behalf of the U.S. Postal Service, which paid $32.3 million to sponsor Armstrong’s cycling team from 2000 to 2004. The case was originally filed in 2010 by Landis, who is acting as a government whistleblower in this case and stands to get up to 25% of the damages if the government’s case succeeds.
The suit alleges Armstrong’s cycling team violated its sponsorship contract by using performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions to cheat in races and then concealed those violations to continue payment. If successful, the government could get its money back times three under the False Claims Act – nearly $100 million, with Armstrong possibly on the hook for all of it.