Federal Government Will Join Lawsuit Against Lance Armstrong for PED Use

Matt FitzgeraldCorrespondent IIIFebruary 22, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - JANUARY 14:  In this handout photo provided by the Oprah Winfrey Network, Oprah Winfrey (not pictured) speaks with Lance Armstrong during an interview regarding the controversy surrounding his cycling career January 14, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  Oprah Winfrey’s exclusive no-holds-barred interview with Lance Armstrong, 'Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive,' has expanded to air as a two-night event on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network.  The special episode of 'Oprah’s Next Chapter' will air Thursday, January 17 from 9-10:30 p.m. ET/PT (as previously announced) and Friday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The interview will be simultaneously streamed LIVE worldwide both nights on Oprah.com.  (Photo by George Burns/Oprah Winfrey Network via Getty Images)
Handout/Getty Images

The Lance Armstrong saga has taken another disastrous turn. The disgraced cyclist will reportedly be sued by the federal government for use of performance-enhancing drugs during his record-setting run at the Tour de France, which he won seven consecutive times.

NBC News' official Twitter page broke the latest developments on Friday:

Pete Williams of NBC provided a little more clarity regarding the case the Department of Justice feels it has against Armstrong:

The government’s legal theory in joining the lawsuit is that when Armstrong agreed to race for the US Postal Service team a decade ago in the Tour de France, he defrauded the government, violating its strict ban on illegal drugs, all the while claiming he did not use them.

The government joins a lawsuit filed by former cyclist Floyd Landis against Armstrong two years ago. Landis himself admitted to using PEDs and has key evidence to implicate Armstrong.

The 41-year-old Armstrong had hotly contested—and vehemently denied—ever using PEDs until recently, when he came at least somewhat clean in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.

However, there are still many questions that Armstrong has yet to answer and his complete involvement has not been totally disclosed. As reported by Juliet Macur of the New York Times, Armstrong has again refused to cooperate with the United States Anti-Doping Agency's investigation into the matter.

Wednesday marked the ultimatum for Armstrong to supply testimony under oath for the USADA, but due to his lack of disclosure, the federal government has now intervened.

Macur outlined in more detail what was at stake for both sides should Armstrong have chosen to finally tell the truth:

The agency...had hoped Armstrong would shed light on which coaches, doctors or top officials in the sport helped him dope and cover up the longstanding doping program on his Tour de France-winning teams. In turn, Armstrong was looking to exchange that information for a shorter ban from Olympic sports, said several people who have discussed the matter with him. Right now, he is serving a lifetime ban.

A federal investigation is likely to force Armstrong's hand once and for all, but he has managed to finagle his way around the truth for so many years and seems determined to not give any more ground.

This scandal has greatly diminished the stirring, inspirational story that Armstrong projected to the media for years. A survivor of testicular cancer, it was believed he had ascended to the pinnacle of cycling without the aid of any unnatural supplements.

But that clearly wasn't the case, as Armstrong faces perhaps his most difficult legal battle yet.