As clock ticks in relation to Qui Tam case, Armstrong implicates Weisel over team doping
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Saturday, December 14, 2013

As clock ticks in relation to Qui Tam case, Armstrong implicates Weisel over team doping

by Shane Stokes at 7:29 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Ruling due to be given next week

Lance ArmstrongWith a decision imminent about who will be charged in the Qui Tam whistleblower case launched by Floyd Landis and joined by the US government, Lance Armstrong has moved to ensure that he will not be the only person to face blame for the widespread doping on the US Postal Service team.

The Texan has for the first time accused the team’s owner Tom Weisel of having direct knowledge of the drug use by riders, thus making him also culpable in the claimed fraud against the US government agency and, therefore, the US government itself.

The detail is important as if those charged are found guilty, they are liable for up to triple damages; some estimates put this amount as being over 100 million dollars, a number that Armstrong recently said he did not have.

If Weisel and any others are also charged, it would mean that they too would have to share a portion of any damages imposed by the final ruling.

On November 18th Judge Robert L. Wilkins heard arguments in a Washington court in relation to the case. He said that while he might dismiss some of the defendants from the case, he doubted that he would do so for all of them.

He said that he would reach a final decision within thirty days. That time is almost up.

The defendants in the case include Armstrong, former team manager Johan Bruyneel and those who were part of the management company Tailwind Sports, including principal owner Weisel, a wealthy financier.

Landis and the US government are alleging fraud on the part of the former multiple Tour de France winner and his US Postal Service team, which used banned substances despite signing sponsorship agreements undertaking to compete clean.

Landis previously admitted using banned substances himself. He is using a US law which enables whistleblowers to launch cases against those who they say committed crimes.

Armstrong’s claim against Weisel was brought to light by USA Today, who noted that it was contained in the latest version of the court documents pertaining to the case.

That document states: “In November 2013, Lance Armstrong stated in non-public responses to written interrogatories issued in connection with another lawsuit that he believes ‘Mr. Weisel was aware of doping by the USPS Team and in professional cycling in general.’

“Armstrong said his belief is ‘based on, inter alia, the following information: in early 1997, the year before Armstrong joined the USPS team, under Weisel’s management, the team doctor was fired and Dr. Pedro Celaya and Jonny Weltz were hired to make sure the USPS team qualified for the Tour de France.

“Scott Mercier and Tyler Hamilton described Weisel’s conscious decision to implement a program on the USPS team in order to successfully compete with other elite European teams, virtually all of which had similar doping programmes.”

In addition to that, the same court documents showed Hamilton was also convinced that Weisel knew what was going on.

“In early December 2013, Tyler Hamilton indicated to Mr. Landis he was so certain that Thomas Weisel knew and approved of the USPS team doping program that he would ‘tattoo it on his arm.’ Among other bases for his believe, Mr. Hamilton has stated to relator Landis that Gorski worked very closely with Mr. Weisel in managing the team, and that Gorski had made statements to Mr. Hamilton reflecting his awareness of doping on the USPS team as early as the late 1990s.”

Apart from Armstrong and Weisel, former team manger Johan Bruyneel, Armstrong’s lawyer Bill Stapleton and Bart Knaggs are named as defendants, as are the Tailwind Sports Corporation, Tailwind Sports LLC, Montgomery Sports Inc., Capital Sport and Entertainment and Thomas Weisel Investment Management companies.

Wilkins’ imminent ruling will show which of those will need to defend themselves in the case. Armstrong seems determined to ensure that he will not have to shoulder all of the blame for what took place on the team.

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