The U.S. Department of Justice has subpoenaed confidential medical records in the high-profile whistleblower case against Lance Armstrong. It is not known why the government needs to gain access to private records detailing the treatment Armstrong received in his battle against testicular cancer. The attorneys for Armstrong have asked a federal judge to block the request arguing that it is an unnecessary invasion of privacy.
After all, Armstrong has already publicly admitted using anabolic steroids, erythropoietin (EPO) and blood doping procedures throughout most of his professional cycling career. The government doesn’t need the medical records to prove that Armstrong doped. He publicly confessed to doping during all seven of his Tour de France victories in a highly-publicized interview with Oprah Winfrey in January 2013. And more recently, Armstrong admitted under oath to doping prior to 1996 in a deposition given in July 2015.
Why are prosecutors so intent on violating Armstrong’s medical privacy? Are they merely seeking to establish an impregnable case against Armstrong? Or are they more interested in shaming or exacting revenge upon the already disgraced cyclist? Perhaps the government feels such a violation of privacy is trivial given what has happened to Armstrong so far? If they can get away with it, why not?
The UCI has already stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. USADA has stripped Armstrong of his eligibility to compete in any WADA-sanctioned competition for the rest of his life. And the U.S. government wants to strip Armstrong of his $100 million personal fortune. Stripping Armstrong of his medical privacy must seem trivial by comparison.
The fundamental issue behind this subpoena is whether or not Armstrong is entitled to the same right of privacy as every other American. Or does the government think that an American citizen’s decision to use steroids and/or any other performance-enhancing drug (PED) gives the government the right to infringe upon their medical privacy?
Armstrong’s lawyers believe the government has failed to demonstrate why accessing the medical records is material to their case.
“Those documents are irrelevant to the subject matter of this litigation and the request is nothing more than an attempt to harass Armstrong, cause unnecessary delay, and needlessly increase the cost of this litigation,” according to Armstrong’s lawyers.
Armstrong’s confession (and the abundance of evidence collected by USADA) are more than sufficient to prove the government’s case that Armstrong lied about and covered up his career-long history of doping. Is it possible that the feds want to link Dr. Lawrence Einhorn and other medical professionals involved in Armstrong’s cancer treatment at Indiana University to the cover-up?
Maybe the government just wants to substantiate the testimony of Betsy Andreu in an effort to further shame Armstrong. Andreu claimed Armstrong admitted doping to doctors at the Indiana University when he was treated for Stage IV testicular cancer that had metastasized to his lung and brains in 1996. Armstrong has thus far refused to confirm Andreu’s account.
The government has also subpoenaed records of all donations made to Indiana University by Armstrong and the charities linked to him. Of specific interest is a $1.5 million endowment to Indiana University that was made two days after Andreu made her assertions about the hospital room confession in testimony videotaped as part of SCA Promotions v. Armstrong and Tailwind Sports lawsuit on October 25, 2005.
It was 2013 when the Department of Justice joined the False Claims Act civil case originally filed by Floyd Landis in 2010. The False Claims Act is also alternatively referred to as Qui Tam or the federal whistleblower law. The civil case alleged that Armstrong and his co-conspirators defrauded the U.S. Postal Service when Armstrong accepted sponsorship dollars from the USPS. Since Armstrong was secretly using PEDs (and actively covering it up) in violation of the terms and conditions of the USPS sponsorship, he was guilty of defrauding the government.
Armstrong has refuted the allegations of fraud based on two arguments. First, USPS should have known that Armstrong was doping since the sport of professional cycling has been one of the most drug-soaked sports in the history of modern sports. And secondly, the USPS benefited greatly from its sponsorship of Armstrong and his pro cycling team. Rather than lose money as a result of the sponsorship, the USPS profited enormously from its association to Armstrong.
Armstrong’s medical records seem to have little relevance in the whistleblower case unless the government wishes to expand the net to include Indiana University medical professionals as co-conspirators.
Vertuno, J. (August 5, 2015). Feds subpoenas IU med school over Armstrong doping scandal. Retrieved from http://wishtv.com/2015/08/05/feds-subpoenas-iu-med-school-over-armstrong-doping-scandal/