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US Government Joins Civil Lawsuit Against Lance Armstrong

Michael Stewart/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- More legal trouble for Lance Armstrong. The U.S. Justice Department announced Friday that it is joining a civil whistle-blower lawsuit against the disgraced cyclist, accusing him of defrauding the U.S. Postal Service, which sponsored his cycling team.

Earlier this week, Armstrong turned down a deal with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) to reduce his lifetime sporting ban, and he is already facing millions of dollars in other litigation. But this suit is expected to be a big one, potentially totaling up to $100 million.  The lawsuit claims the U.S. Postal Service was defrauded out of roughly $30 million paid to sponsor Armstrong's cycling team.  His former teammate, Floyd Landis first filed the suit now being joined by the government.

The filing also includes Armstrong's associates, Johan Bruyneel and Tailwind Sports. The Justice Department alleges, according to a release Friday, that Bruyneel and Tailwind, who managed and owned Armstrong's cycling team, "submitted or caused the submission of false claims to the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) in connection with its sponsorship of a professional bicycle racing team by regularly employing banned substances and methods to enhance their performance, in violation of the USPS sponsorship agreements."

In an interview with Oprah this past January, Armstrong already admitted to a career fueled by doping and deceit.  However, he declined to take an opportunity this week to come clean to the USADA, the agency that regulates sports doping, blocking his chances of competing professionally again.

According to Friday's release announcing the Justice Department's decision, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald C. Machen Jr., said Armstrong and his associates agreed to "play fair and abide by the rules -- including rules against doping."  

"The Postal Service has now seen its sponsorship unfairly associated with what has been described as 'the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen,'" Machen said.  "This lawsuit is designed to help the Postal Service recoup the tens of millions of dollars it paid out to the Tailwind cycling team based on years of broken promises."

The Justice Department will file its formal complaint within 60 days.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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