Judge in Armstrong Trial Sets Limits on Evidence

(CN) – A federal judge on Tuesday set limits on evidence and testimony that will admitted at Lance Armstrong’s upcoming $100 million civil trial, among other things barring an expert witnesses for the government from testifying that the Postal Service got no financial benefit whatsoever from its sponsorship of the disgraced cyclist.

But U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper said government experts will be allowed to testify as to whether the agency was damaged beyond the value of its original sponsorship.

Cooper also said he would not allow Armstrong to call  former teammate Floyd Landis to the stand to be the subject of a character attack. It was Landis who initially filed the lawsuit in 2010, and, as a whistleblower, he stands to gain up to 25 percent of the damages awarded.

The judge will, however, allow Armstrong’s defense team to call Landis for “non-character-related purposes.”

Landis himself was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping.

Armstrong faces a May 2018 trial as the federal government seeks to recover more than $30 million the Postal Service paid to sponsor his team for several Tour de France victories.

Those wins were stripped after Armstrong’s 2013 confession to using banned performance-enhancing drugs and methods.

If Armstrong is ultimately found liable for damages, he could also be subject to up to $100 million in penalties.

Cooper denied Armstrong’s wish to not allow the jury from considering the government’s actual damages because “the Government has provided a sufficiently non- speculative framework for the jury to calculate damages under the theory of damages outlined in the Court’s summary judgment ruling.”

Armstrong also asked the plaintiffs not use the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to ban him from pro-cycling, which the judge also denied.

Cooper will allow one of Armstrong’s experts to testify on the rampant use of doping in cycling in Armstrong’s era, opening up a line of defense that the government should have known, or did know, that Armstrong’s team was cheating and sponsored his team anyway.

The judge put some limits on a key piece of Armstrong evidence: reports commissioned by the Postal Service that said the sponsorship had “earned” the agency more than $100 million in global exposure. Most of those reports were ruled inadmissible, but Armstrong will be allowed to show that Postal Service officials had accepted the reports’ findings.

Tuesday’s ruling also allows the government to bring evidence about Armstrong’s relationship with other sponsors, such as Nike and Trek, that dropped him after the doping scandal broke.

San Francisco-based attorney Paul Scott, who represents Landis, told Courthouse News,  “overall the rulings fall mainly on the side of the plaintiffs and give us a very straightforward path to trying the case.”

But Armstrong’s attorney, Elliot Peters, was also pleased, telling the Associated Press, “We think it’s great. The court says very clearly the government cannot pursue that the sponsorship had no value because of team doping. They have to prove damages to Postal Service after 2013 and Lance’s confession.”

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