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Is USPS a victim or fully compensated party in cycling fraud case?

One litigant in a civil fraud dispute contends that it is owed about $100 million in damages for so-called "lost promotional value" it suffered owing to the bad-faith actions of a prominent athlete -- a global icon -- it sponsored for years.

That wrongdoer -- Lance Armstrong, self-confessed user of prohibited performance-enhancing drugs -- counters through his legal team that his contractual partner recouped its total investment in him and far more, and is thus owed nothing.

Such is the status quo presently in the protracted and decidedly complex federal lawsuit pitting Armstrong -- at one time, the most revered and decorated pro bicyclist on the planet -- against the United States Postal Service, which claims it spent more than $30 million sponsoring Armstrong and his team as they rode to glory for many successive years.

Although there was a distracting buzz around Armstrong for a long time, there was no admission of wrongdoing. With evidence mounting, though, Armstrong eventually admitted in 2013 to doping.

For obvious reasons, that materially altered the relationship between the athlete and the USPS. The government severed its sponsorship and joined qui tam whistleblower litigation alleging massive fraud upon the public that was filed by an ex-teammate.

And now, unsurprisingly, the parties are sparring over the specifics. For its part, the government is demanding triple damages that could be recoverable in the case. Armstrong's lawyers scoff at the idea, saying that the USPS reaped scores of millions in profits from enhanced media exposure and related benefits tied to its long-term association with Armstrong.

The case slogs on, with no indication on when the federal judge overseeing it will issue rulings on various motions that are now before the court.

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