Lance Armstrong could yet be facing more serious legal adversaries than that of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), after it was revealed that the United States Postal Service and the Department of Justice were considering joining an existing 'whistleblower' fraud case filed by Floyd Landis.
The sealing of judicial records is not appropriate, if it is done merely to protect parties from embarrassment.
A US Magistrate court has revealed that Armstrong and his legal team have been trying to suppress information regarding an investigation being conducted by the US Postal Service's Office of the Inspector General (OIG).
The court ruled that a subpoena filed by the OIG and issued to Armstrong requesting information in its investigation should be made public. The subpoena was filed by Armstrong in 2010, but was only revealed over the weekend.
In it Armstrong is directed to hand over several legal documents relating to his time with US Postal Service. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Armstrong was not the only one served with subpoenas by the OIG.
The US Postal Service is conducting its own internal investigation of its association to ascertain whether its funds were misused or defrauded from it while it was financial involved with cycling. USPS, a government institution, was a naming sponsor of Armstrong's Tour de France team between 1999 and 2005, as well as three years previous when the team was branded Motorola.
The outlay of USPS was believed to be in excess of $40 million, and the misuse of said funds was a focus of the previous Federal investigation led by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Though the investigation was shelved earlier in the year, it appears that on the back of a 'whistleblower' case launched by Floyd Landis, things may yet be reopened.
According to ESPN, and the Wall Street Journal, the 'whistleblower' could act as a platform for both the Department of Justice and USPS to go after Armstrong.
Whistleblower cases can be filed by any individual if there is a belief that US Government funds have been misused. Historically there is a higher probability of a case succeeding with DOJ backing.
The momentum behind the case is reportedly increasing in the wake of the USADA investigation which uncovered a conspiracy at the USPS, Discovery Channel and Astana teams.
According to the WSJ, if Armstrong and his associate are found to have violated the False Claims Act (under which the Landis case is filed), they would be liable for triple the amount of the sponsorship.
Armstrong and others were banned for life from cycling after failing to contest the charges filed against him by the USADA.
In an unrelated development the International Olympic Committee says it will wait until 27 December, three weeks after Armstrong was officially notifed by the International Cycling Union of his lifetime sanction, to pursue the option of stripping his Sydney Olympic Medal.
If Armstrong does not appeal the sanction, the IOC will consider its next steps. Armstrong won bronze in the individual time trial in Sydney.