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Report: Landis files a whistle-blower suit

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

AUSTIN, Texas -- Former Lance Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis, who has accused the seven-time Tour de France winner of doping while riding for the U.S. Postal Service team, has filed a federal whistle-blower lawsuit, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Landis won the Tour de France in 2006 but had the title stripped because of a positive drug test. This spring, he ended years of denials by admitting he took performance-enhancing drugs. He also accused Armstrong and other cyclists of doping.

Citing anonymous sources, the Journal reported in a story posted on its website Friday that Landis has filed a lawsuit under the federal False Claims Act. The law allows Americans to sue on behalf of the government alleging the government has been defrauded.

The Journal says the lawsuit is sealed, so it's not known exactly what it claims. However, Armstrong won six of his seven Tour victories with the Postal Service team.

The newspaper said the Justice Department is weighing whether to intervene in the suit. As a whistle-blower, Landis could collect 30 percent of any money the government recovers.

Armstrong vehemently denies he used performance-enhancing drugs.

"This news that Floyd Landis is in this for the money reconfirms everything we all knew about Landis," Armstrong spokesman Mark Fabiani said Friday night in a statement. "By his own admission, he is a serial liar, an epic cheater, and a swindler who raised and took almost a million dollars from his loyal fans based on his lies. What remains a complete mystery is why the government would devote a penny of the taxpayer's money to help Floyd Landis further his vile, cheating ambitions. And all aimed directly at Lance Armstrong, a man who earned every victory and passed every test while working for cancer survivors all over the world."

Messages left with Landis' attorney and the Justice Department were not immediately returned Friday night.

Armstrong also is under scrutiny in a separate federal investigation into cheating in professional cycling. His attorneys met this week with federal prosecutors in Los Angeles.

Officials with the Justice Department's commercial litigation branch and a Postal inspector have also requested documents from a 2005 arbitration case in which a Dallas promotions company alleged Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs and refused to pay him, the Journal reported. The arbitration panel ruled in Armstrong's favor in that case.

The Postal Service paid $30.6 million to the team's management company to sponsor the team from 2001 through 2004, according to a sponsorship agreement reviewed by the Journal.

The contract said "negative publicity" due to "alleged possession, use or sale of banned substances" by riders or team personnel would constitute an "event of default," as would a failure to take "action" in the event a rider violates a morals or drug clause.