Lance Armstrong has agreed to pay $5 million to settle a lawsuit that claimed he defrauded the federal government by using performance-enhancing drugs while riding for the U.S. Postal Service cycling team.
“No one is above the law,” Chad Readler, the acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Division, said in announcing the decision Thursday.
The lawsuit alleged Armstrong and his team regularly and systematically used performance-enhancing drugs in violation of the USPS's sponsorship deal. The USPS sponsored the team for more than $32 million from 2000 to 2004.
Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France wins in 2012 and banned for life from competitive cycling. He later admitted to doping in a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey.
“I am glad to resolve this case and move forward with my life,” Armstrong said in a statement Thursday. “I’m looking forward to devoting myself to the many great things in my life. There is a lot to look forward to.”
The USPS and former teammate Floyd Landis originally sought more than $100 million in damages. His lawyer, Elliot Peters, said it was "nonsense" and "hypocritical" for the Postal Service to say it was harmed by Armstrong's doping because the publicity from the sponsorship boosted sales.
"They tracked it and they bragged about it internally," Peters said.
Ian Dille, senior editor at FloBikes – which streams some of the biggest races online – says the sport hasn't just survived the scandal; it's thrived.
"I would make the argument that the exposing of the doping and cheating that was going on with Lance and the Postal Service and a number of other cyclists ... was a good thing, and the sport is in a much better place." Dille said.
The decision comes just two weeks before a scheduled trial in federal court in Washington, D.C.