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Experts agree that Armstrong likely clinched an out of court agreement with the government before speaking to Oprah.

Peter Keane, a law professor at Golden Gate University, said Armstrong could face criminal prosecution over the government sponsorship he received while riding on the US Postal team from 1998 to 2004.

"Because he has now admitted he doped, that makes it a Air Force 1 Nike High Tops

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Until now, Armstrong, 41, had strenuously denied doping allegations for several years, even after a 1,000 page report by the US Anti Doping Agency put him at the heart of the greatest doping scandal in the annals of cycling.

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"I'm talking about money, lots of money" he says. "I'm talking about liberty."

at least $7.5 million in performance bonuses paid to Armstrong in 2006 for multiple Tour victories.

It has spent millions of dollars prosecuting former baseball stars Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, with meager results.

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Armstrong is said to have come clean about his use of performance enhancing drugs in an interview with Oprah Winfrey set to air on Thursday, his first interview since being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles last year.

In terms of potential criminal charges, the case has enough of a high profile for the government to consider prosecuting Armstrong for fraud millions of dollars of public sponsorship for perjury, after his denials under oath, says Socolow

lot easier to prove a fraud claim," says sports lawyer Brian Socolow of New York firm Loeb Loeb. "Given that he has now said that he did use performance enhancing drugs, the government is given the opportunity to reopen an investigation."

In terms of civil charges, the Justice Department has until Thursday to join a lawsuit filed in 2010 by Armstrong's former teammate Floyd Landis to recuperate public funds disbursed to his US Postal team, a source close to the matter said.

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Armstrong "will return either voluntarily or by force of law millions of dollars of sponsors' fees," predicted Socolow.

"I'm sure his attorneys reviewed the potential impact an 'admission' would have in all existing legal matters against him and all possible suits that could result from Nike Air Force 1 Red Suede

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his admission," says Kobritz.

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The Justice Department refused comment on any possible lawsuits, civil or criminal. But a source close to the matter said there was no risk of criminal prosecution. Experts, however, say criminal charges could come if Armstrong admits to more than just doping and confesses to distributing performance enhancing drugs.

WASHINGTON, Jan 16, 2013 (AFP) The US government can take Lance Armstrong to court once the fallen cycling hero publicly admits to doping, experts and people familiar with the matter say.

A court document shows that Landis's complaint has recourse to the False Claims Act, which allows an individual to file a lawsuit against someone else or against a company for having lied to the federal government. The text allows the accuser to pocket 15 to 30 percent of the funds recovered by the government. The government spent more than $30 million sponsoring US Postal, according to The Wall Street Journal. Experts say the government can seek three times that amount.

´╗┐Lance Armstrong Could Face Legal Action After Confession

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The Sunday Times of Britain has sued him for more than million ($1.6 million) over a 2006 libel payment. It had paid Armstrong to settle a libel case after publishing a story suggesting he may have cheated, and now wants that money, plus interest and legal costs, repaid.

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In addition to government prosecution and the Landis case, Armstrong could face several civil complaints. In Texas, sports insurer SCA wants Nike Air Force 1 Khaki Suede to recoup Nike Air Force 1 Mid Black Womens

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And Livestrong donors may demand compensation after Armstrong's admission. The foundation has raised more than $500 million since the cyclist founded it in 1997.

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However, "the government could investigate him for obstruction of justice if he misled the grand jury investigation last year," says Michael McCann, who is set to head a new Sports and Entertainment Law Institute at the University of New Hampshire this fall.

"I don't think the government a majority of the American people the stomach for a criminal suit," in light of Armstrong's widespread popularity, says Jordan Kobritz, who chairs the Sport Management Department at the State University of New York at Cortland.

A statute of limitations bars lawsuits for perjury more than five years after declarations made under oath. And there are contradictory reports as to when Armstrong made his declarations, with the oldest dating back to 2005.

The government has had lackluster success with perjury cases against athletes who testified under oath about using illegal drugs, Socolow says.

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