Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong has reached a $US5 million ($6.5 million) settlement with the US federal government in a lawsuit that could have sought $US100 million ($129 million) in damages.
Armstrong was stripped of his record seven Tour de France victories after admitting he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout much of his career.
The deal announced on Thursday came as the two sides prepared for a trial that was scheduled to start in May in Washington.
Armstrong’s former US Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis filed the original lawsuit in 2010 and is eligible for up to 25 per cent of the settlement.
Seeking millions spent sponsoring Armstrong’s powerhouse teams, the government joined the lawsuit against Armstrong in 2013 after his televised confession to using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs and methods.
Armstrong had already retired, but the confession shattered the legacy of one of the most popular sports figures in the world.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Armstrong said he’s happy to have “made peace with the Postal Service”.
“While I believe that their lawsuit against me was meritless and unfair, and while I am spending a lot of money to resolve it, I have since 2013 tried to take full responsibility for my mistakes and inappropriate conduct, and make amends wherever possible,” he said.
“I rode my heart out for the Postal cycling team, and was always especially proud to wear the red, white and blue eagle on my chest when competing in the Tour de France. Those memories are very real and mean a lot to me.”
The settlement clears the 46-year-old Armstrong of the most damaging legal issues still facing the cyclist since his downfall.
He had already taken huge hits financially, losing all his major sponsors and being forced to pay more than $US20 million ($26 million) in damages and settlements in a series of lawsuits.
The US government’s lawsuit would have been the biggest by far.
Armstrong is still believed to be worth millions of dollars based on a vast investment portfolio and homes in Austin, Texas, and Aspen, Colorado.
He also owns a pair of bicycle shops in Austin, and WeDu, an endurance events company.
He also hosts a regular podcast in which he interviews other sports figures and celebrities, and has provided running commentary on the Tour de France.