Armstrong “might” return some of USPS’s $31 million in sponsorship payments
CNN reports that Lance Armstrong has told Oprah Winfrey that he “might” return some of the $31 million he and his team were paid by the US Postal Service. Citing an anonymous source, the network says he made the comments during an interview recorded Monday. The interview is scheduled to be broadcast Friday:
Armstrong also might pay back part of the money he received from the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored the cyclist and his team while he was winning six of his Tours de France, the source said.
The source said Armstrong was in negotiations to repay some of the money.
ESPN reported in 2011 that the agency — which is not taxpayer funded — paid more that $31 million to sponsor the team during the final four years of its agreement.
A spokeswoman for the postal service said: “We are not in a position now to discuss any of the legal issues associated with these developments and the prior relationship between the U.S. Postal Service and Mr. Armstrong, but we will do so at an appropriate time.”
Armstrong won the Tour de France a record seven straight years, beginning in 1999. The postal service sponsored the team from 1996 to 2004.
Armstrong may not have any choice- he’s the target of a whistle-blower suit filed by former teammate Floyd Landis in 2010, claiming that Armstrong defrauded the USPS by accepting the money while violating morals clauses in the sponsorship contract. If the suit is successful, Armstrong could be liable for triple damages. Landis would be entitled to a 30% share of any award.
The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Justice Department is likely to join Landis’s suit.