Cyclist Dealt Setbacks in Whistleblower Case

     WASHINGTON (CN) — A federal judge ruled disgraced cyclist and whistleblower Floyd Landis cannot reopen Lance Armstrong’s deposition about statements made in a documentary and cannot sue for false claims made more than 12 years ago.
     Landis sued Armstrong, former U.S. Postal Service cycling team manager Johan Bruyneel and Armstrong’s management company Tailwind Sports in Federal Court in 2010. The United States joined the $100 million lawsuit three years later, after Armstrong admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he used steroids and blood doping to win his record seven consecutive Tour de France victories.
     Armstrong gave the interview after he was banned from the sport for life and stripped of his victories. Landis too was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France victory for doping.
     Landis claims Bruyneel knew the team was using banned drugs and that Armstrong and Tailwind Sports, among others, knowingly flouted USPS sponsorship agreements signed in 1995 and 2000. Landis could receive up to 30 percent of any recovery as whistleblower.
     On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper rejected Landis’ motion to compel the reopening of Armstrong’s deposition about the authenticity of statements he made in the 2013 Sony-produced documentary “The Armstrong Lie.”
     Armstrong had told the court the documentary footage “does not accurately reflect the questions asked of him and the answers he gave.” He said the content of the questions had been edited and that parts of questions were deleted.
     Landis wanted to know what precise questions and answers in the video Armstrong disputes.
     Cooper’s four-page order said the court “will not require Armstrong to supplement his interrogatory response or to sit for further deposition time.” The judge cited a 2004 opinion from an Ohio Federal Court that held videos in another case “fairly depict the actual events that took place” in spite of allegations of editing and deletions making it misleading.
     The judge also refused to order Armstrong to identify alleged errors in his deposition transcript.
     “[Landis] is equally able to identify discrepancies between the words actually uttered in the documentary and the text of a corresponding transcript,” the order states. “If [Landis] wishes to include relevant portions of the transcript in his trial exhibits, the court expects him to ensure their accuracy. If necessary, Armstrong may object to the accuracy of [Landis’] transcript designations in advance of trial.”
     Cooper on Wednesday also denied Landis’ motion to reconsider his earlier ruling that Landis cannot sue for false claims allegedly made prior to June 10, 2004. The judge had earlier ruled that tolling provisions under the False Claims Act do not apply to Landis’ claims that the government has not intervened in.
     “Because the government had not intervened…the court concluded that [Landis] could recover against them only for allegedly false claims submitted on or after June 10, 2004 — not on or after June 10, 2000, as the tolling provision would have allowed,” a seven-page order states.
     Cooper rejected Landis’ citing of two U.S. Supreme Court rulings, concluding the first “is but a variation” of an earlier argument Cooper rejected, according to the order.
     He ruled the second cited case is “equally unavailing” as it relies heavily on a previous case from his district with an approach that was “ultimately rejected.”
     Attorneys for Landis did not immediately respond to an email message requesting comment Friday.
     Armstrong has settled several civil lawsuits against him after his Winfrey interview, but said he must fight Landis’ lawsuit because he “is not in a position to cut any more checks.”
     “That’s the only active case so it gets a little trickier to talk about – just because I do not want to get crushed by lawyers – but we like our case,” Armstrong said in December. “The Postal Service commissioned three separate studies to analyze the effect of the sponsorship on the team. We believe they made hundreds of millions of dollars and we know they were using the team as a sales vehicle during the Tour, bringing over potential clients.”

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