Lance Armstrong on Thursday agreed to pay US$5 million to settle a looming federal fraud case stemming from his drug-fueled reign as king of the Tour de France.
The former cycling superstar was due to face a trial next month over claims he defrauded the US government when he doped while racing for the US Postal Service-sponsored team.
The US Postal Service and former teammate Floyd Landis had sought about US$100 million in damages from Armstrong in the case, which was due to get under way on May 7.
However, the prospect of a potentially ruinous judgement going against the cancer survivor was averted after Armstrong’s lawyers and the US Department of Justice brokered a settlement.
“No one is above the law,” US Department of Justice lawyer Chad Readler said in a statement announcing the deal. “This settlement demonstrates that those who cheat the government will be held accountable.”
Armstrong’s attorney, Elliot Peters, said the settlement “ends all litigation against Armstrong related to his 2013 admission that during his career as a professional cyclist he had used performance-enhancing substances.”
The Washington Post reported that Armstrong would also pay US$1.65 million to cover the legal costs of former teammate and whistle-blower Landis.
A further US$1.1 million of the US$5 million is to go to Landis.
Although Armstrong maintained the case was “without merit and unfair,” he said he was pleased to have settled.
“I have since 2013 tried to take full responsibility for my mistakes and make amends wherever possible,” he said.
Meanwhile, Landis told ESPN he was relieved not to have to confront Armstrong in a courtroom.
“I really didn’t want to relive it in a courtroom and I don’t think Lance did either, and I don’t know that that would have really accomplished anything,” Landis said.
However, the settlement was greeted with dismay by Betsy Andreu, the wife of former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu.
“My thought is a vengeful, unremorseful pathological liar was revealed and got a lifetime ban so all is not lost,” Betsy Andreu wrote on Facebook. “In the end he is who he is and money can’t buy class, respect or reputation.”
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