Judge sets limits on key testimony in Armstrong lawsuit

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) A federal judge has set some limits on key evidence and testimony in Lance Armstrong’s upcoming $100 million civil trial, including harm inflicted on former team sponsor U.S. Postal Service and whether the government should have known the cyclist and his team were cheating to win when it signed the deal.

Armstrong faces a 2018 trial as the federal government seeks to recover more than $30 million the Postal Service paid to sponsor his team for several Tour de France victories. Those wins were stripped away after Armstrong’s 2013 confession to using steroids other banned performance-enhancing drugs and methods.

If liable for damages, Armstrong could be subject to penalties in the range of $100 million.

Tuesday’s ruling by U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper in Washington sets ground rules for evidence that both sides want to present regarding harm to the Postal Service, doping use in cycling and the character and motivation of Armstrong and his former teammate Floyd Landis, who initially filed the lawsuit in 2010 and stands to gain up to 25 percent of the damages awarded.

The ruling bars the government’s expert witnesses from testifying that the Postal Service got no financial benefit whatsoever from its sponsorship, a decision Armstrong’s lawyers consider a key victory for arguing whether the agency was actually damaged by his doping. The government experts will be allowed to testify as to whether the agency was damaged beyond the value of its original sponsorship.

Lawyers for Armstrong and Landis both claimed victory in the ruling.

“We think it’s great. The court says very clearly the government cannot pursue that the sponsorship had no value because of team doping. They have to prove damages to Postal Service after 2013 and Lance’s confession,” said Elliott Peters, an attorney for Armstrong.

“The rulings largely fall our way,” said Landis attorney Paul D. Scott. “The court left open a clear path for the government and Landis to prove up damages arising from negative publicity associated with the disclosure of Armstrong’s doping and concealment.”

The judge will also allow one of Armstrong’s experts to testify on the rampant use of doping in cycling in Armstrong’s era, opening up a line of defense that the government should have known, or did know, that Armstrong’s team was cheating and sponsored his team anyway.

The judge put some limits on a key piece of Armstrong evidence: reports commissioned by the Postal Service that said the sponsorship had “earned” the agency more than $100 million in global exposure. Most of those reports were ruled inadmissible, but Armstrong will be allowed to show that Postal Service officials had accepted the reports’ findings.

Armstrong’s lawyers will also be allowed – with limits – to question Landis’ credibility and potential financial motivation for filing the lawsuit. Landis himself was stripped of the 2006 Tour de France title for doping.

The government will be allowed to call as witnesses Betsy Andreu and former Tour de France winner Greg LeMond. Andreu, the wife of former Armstrong teammate Frankie Andreu, provided the first sworn testimony of doping allegations against Armstrong in a 2005 lawsuit. LeMond has publicly clashed with both Armstrong and Landis.

Tuesday’s ruling also allows the government to bring evidence about Armstrong’s relationship with other sponsors, such as Nike and Trek, that dropped him after the doping scandal broke.

Davide Rebellin dies after hit by truck while training

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MILAN — Italian cyclist Davide Rebellin, one of the sport’s longest-serving professionals, died after being struck by a truck while training. He was 51.

Rebellin was riding near the town of Montebello Vicentino in northern Italy when he was hit by a truck near a motorway junction. The vehicle did not stop, although Italian media reported that the driver may have been unaware of the collision.

Local police are working to reconstruct the incident and find the driver.

Rebellin had only retired from professional cycling last month, bringing to an end a career that had spanned 30 years. He last competed for Work Service-Vitalcare-Dynatek and the UCI Continental team posted a tribute on its social media accounts.

“Dear Davide, keep pedaling, with the same smile, the same enthusiasm and the same passion as always,” the Italian team said. “This is not how we imagined the future together and it is not fair to have to surrender so suddenly to your tragic absence.”

“To your family, your loved ones, your friends and all the enthusiasts who, like us, are crying for you right now, we just want to say that we imagine you on a bicycle, looking for new roads, new climbs and new challenges even up there, in the sky.”

Rebellin’s successes included victories at Paris-Nice and Tirreno-Adriatico as well as winning a stage in the 1996 edition of the Giro d’Italia, which he also led for six stages.

Rebellin won silver in the road race at the 2008 Olympic Games, but he was later stripped of his medal and banned for two years after a positive doping test. He had denied wrongdoing.

CAS upholds Nairo Quintana DQ from Tour de France for opioid use

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland – The disqualification of two-time Tour de France runner-up Nairo Quintana from his sixth place in the 2022 race for misuse of an opioid was confirmed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

CAS said its judges dismissed Quintana’s appeal and agreed with the International Cycling Union that the case was a medical matter rather than a doping rules violation. He will not be banned.

The court said the judges ruled “the UCI’s in-competition ban on tramadol was for medical rather than doping reasons and was therefore within the UCI’s power and jurisdiction.”

Traces of the synthetic painkiller tramadol were found in two dried blood spot samples taken from the Colombian racer five days apart in July, the UCI previously said.

Quintana’s case is among the first to rely on the dried blood spot (DBS) method of collecting samples which the World Anti-Doping Agency approved last year.

Tramadol was banned in 2019 from use at cycling races because of potential side effects. They include the risk of addiction, dizziness, drowsiness and loss of attention.

Quintana finished second in the Tour de France in 2013 and 2015, won both times by Chris Froome. He won the 2014 Giro d’Italia.