WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has joined a lawsuit against disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong that alleges the former seven-time Tour de France champion concealed his use of performance-enhancing drugs and defrauded his longtime sponsor, the U.S. Postal Service, Armstrong’s lawyers said Friday.
The suit the Justice Department is joining was filed in 2010 by former teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title for doping.
Settlement discussions had been under way between the Justice Department and Armstrong’s lawyers. A person familiar with the private negotiations said the two sides are tens of millions of dollars apart on how much Armstrong should pay to settle the case.
An Armstrong lawyer, Robert Luskin, said negotiations with the government failed because “we disagree about whether the postal service was damaged.”
“The postal service’s own studies show that the service benefited tremendously from its sponsorship — benefits totaling more than $100 million,” Luskin said.
Luskin said, “Lance and his representatives worked constructively over these last weeks with federal lawyers to resolve this case fairly.”
The Landis lawsuit was filed under seal, but it will be unsealed with the Justice Department decision to join or, in essence, take over the case.
Armstrong was the subject of a two-year federal grand jury investigation that the Justice Department dropped a year ago without an indictment.
Throughout his career, Armstrong always denied drug use, but he confessed to having done so in an interview last month.