Will the federal government go soft just as its decade of PED investigations might yield a hard-currency payoff? A civil fraud case against Lance Armstrong's cycling team could yield millions of dollars in reimbursement to the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored the team under a contract that required riders not to dope. Yet the Department of Justice has hesitated to throw its essential weight behind the lawsuit, which should be easier to sell to the public than any of its other actions in doping cases.
Travis Tygart, in his lawyerly way, has called out Attorney General Eric Holder for timidity in the whistleblower lawsuit, originally filed in 2010 by former Postal rider Floyd Landis. The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency wrote a letter to Holder last month, coaxing him to step into the batter's box again, eight months after a beaning by Roger Clemens' legal team, and try to reclaim the millions for the U.S. Postal Service.
"In light of the outcome of recent sport-related federal cases, it is understandable that the government would have some reluctance to spend public dollars going after another sports case,'' Tygart said in a letter dated Jan. 14. "This situation is different. USADA has already done the work in the sports case and won. … Unlike the Clemens case, the central fact of doping is no longer an issue. What remains unresolved is the massive economic fraud perpetrated by individuals who are outside USADA's jurisdiction.''