Feds remain focused on Lance Armstrong’s hit-and-run in Aspen

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
The U.S. government wants to hear Lance Armstrong's explanation for a hit-and-run accident that happened in Aspen's West End neighborhood last December.

Lance Armstrong’s hit-and-run fender bender in December 2014 continues to attract the scrutiny of the federal government.

In a deposition held Sept. 24 in San Francisco and made public Monday, the part-time Aspen resident, at the behest of his attorney, refused to answer questions from U.S. Department of Justice attorney David Finkelstein about the highly publicized incident.

“Is it true you had a little bit to drink that night?” Finkelstein asked Armstrong.

Armstrong’s attorney, Sharif Jacob, objected to the questioning, calling it “harassing and irrelevant.”

Jacob called an end to the deposition and said he would seek a protection order to stop the government from questioning Armstrong about the accident, according to a deposition transcript. The protection order ended up not being sought, but a judge still will decide whether Armstrong must testify about the Aspen automobile accident.

The federal government has a $100 million fraud case pending against Armstrong in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. The case alleges that one of Armstrong’s Tour de France sponsors, the U.S. Postal Service, wouldn’t have paid $30 million to him and his team had it known he was using performance-enhancing drugs from 1997 to 2004.

The government has tried to get information about the incident in an effort to show that Armstrong still leads a life of deceit after his doping activities were revealed.

In the same case, the government unsuccessfully tried to depose Armstrong’s girlfriend, Anna Hansen, about the same incident.

On Dec. 27, Aspen police ticketed Armstrong for a hit-and-run after he struck two vehicles parked in front of a West Francis Avenue home. Hansen, who has two children with Armstrong and shares a home with him in the West End, originally told authorities she was driving the vehicle, but later conceded Armstrong was behind the wheel, police said. Armstrong pleaded guilty to careless driving and paid a $150 traffic fine and $238.50 in court fees in February.

“Armstrong also should be compelled to answer questions concerning his responsibility for Anna Hansen’s false statements to the Aspen police,” the Department of Justice wrote in a legal filing Monday.

The filing also argued that the court should apply different standards to Armstrong than Hansen regarding testifying about the hit-and-run.

“First, unlike Hansen, Armstrong is a party in this case, and his credibility is a central issue,” the filing said. “Second, unlike Hansen, Armstrong actually pleaded guilty to criminal charges based on the events about which the government seeks to inquire. Third, and most significantly, the events surrounding Armstrong’s decision to suborn false statements to the Aspen police undermine his claim that his propensity for deception was limited in time to the period before his doping was exposed.”

In the deposition, Armstrong said he has tried to make amends for the doping scandal that sullied not only his reputation but also the sport of cycling’s.

“I have done everything that I can to make it right with those people, and that means traveling the world and sitting with them and meting with them and apologizing to them,” Armstrong said in a deposition, “and I’m thankful and grateful that most of them, if almost all of them, have accepted the apology.”