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April 24, 2013 / Tom Liberman

Lance Armstrong sued by the Government

Lance Armstrong Sued by GovernmentHere’s a story that makes me want to weep. It’s all bad.

Lance Armstrong is being sued by the government over money the Postal Service gave him, his teammates, and his team during the period between 1998 and 2004. For this financial boon the team was called the U.S. Postal Team during the Tour de France. Armstrong won the race every year from 1999 to 2004 although these victories have now been voided after he admitted to using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).

The government claims it did not receive the value of the services for which it bargained. The idea of advertising is that a business spends money to promote their goods and sees an increase in sales.

Golly, let me try to pick a place to start my rant. It’s not easy. Lance? Lance’s teammates? The government lawyers? The Postal Service?

I’m no fan of Armstrong. Not because he cheated, they all did, but because of the way he ruthlessly bullied and hurt people to keep his secret. His teammates rode along in silence saying nothing until the gravy train came to a halt and only then did they come flying out eager to tell stories. The Postal Service paid $40 million dollars to a cycling team to advertise? What were they advertising? The Post Office isn’t trying to make a profit. They provide a service to citizens. If people want stamps they buy them. The money goes to pay for this service. The Post Office shouldn’t be competing with any private business. They should never advertise. Meanwhile the lawyers who thought this one up can’t possibly think that the publicity for the then heroic Armstrong wasn’t value for the investment. It most certainly was as documented by their own records.

I don’t want to get too deeply into the Post Office but it’s the perfect example of a working tax. People purchase stamps to mail letters and packages. Those letters and packages are delivered by the government. The tax directly supports the service for which it is paid. That’s the way all taxes should be. But, I digress.

Armstrong is not a nice man but he delivered precisely on the investment the Post Office made in him. He won races, he garnered publicity, he wore their colors, and undoubtedly promoted their services. What’s the issue? He cheated and was caught later? They haven’t paid him since 2004. He revealed his lies in 2012. What are the possible damages?

If it turns out my old girlfriend, still love her, great woman, didn’t really like me can I sue to recoup the dinners I bought? I had fun at those dinners. I enjoyed her company.

What if my kitties were just pretending all those years to enjoy the snuggling? Can I sue to get the money I spent on food and vet care back?

As a baseball fan can I sue to get back the money I spent (ok, my mother the season ticket holder spent) on all those years Mark McGuire was hitting home runs for the Birds on the Bat? Did I retroactively not enjoy the games?

This is not only ridiculous but it sets and awful legal precedent. Now, if Armstrong had failed to try during those years, if he had taken the money and not put forward the effort to win, then a lawsuit makes sense. Then the government didn’t get its money’s worth.

I don’t even think this is a money grab. This is someone trying to capitalize on the unpopularity of Armstrong to bolster their own image. Golly, you go Post Office, get that bad man.

No winners here, nothing to see, please return to your lives.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist
Current Release: The Sword of Water (buy it, seriously, it’s good, $2.99, it’s a bargain)
Next Release: The Spear of the Hunt

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