/ Cycling

US firm to sue Armstrong for $12million

Updated: Thursday, 07 Feb 2013 20:30 | Comments

Lance Armstrong's admissions of drug use to Oprah Winfrey opened him up to legal action
Lance Armstrong's admissions of drug use to Oprah Winfrey opened him up to legal action

Lance Armstrong could be called before a Texas court to give evidence in his dispute with SCA Promotions after lawyers representing the insurance company today filed a lawsuit for the return of more than $12million from the disgraced cyclist.

SCA Promotions is seeking to recoup prize money it paid Armstrong after losing its case more than seven years ago, when the Texan provided sworn testimony he had not doped during his career.

Armstrong's confession to Oprah Winfrey last month that he had in fact used performance-enhancing drugs opened him up to a host of legal actions and Jeff Tillotson, a lawyer representing SCA Promotions, today filed the lawsuit in Dallas State District Court.

There is a strong prospect that Armstrong, his lawyer Tim Herman, and his long-time agent Bill Stapleton, will be called to give evidence in court.

Tillotson said: "We will certainly seek to take their depositions on the relevant issues.

"We feel confident that the key facts about what has happened are open and not in dispute.

"I don't think there's any dispute by Mr Armstrong or his lawyers that he lied under oath in our legal proceeding.

"The only question is what should be the penalty and consequence of that."

Armstrong will likely avoid criminal proceedings for perjury after lying under oath in the original case in 2005, given the passage of time.

SCA Promotions is seeking a minimum of 12million US dollars - the return of Tour de France prize money of 1.5million US dollars in 2002, 3million US dollars in 2003 and 5million US dollars in 2004, plus 2.5m in costs paid in 2004 - plus interest and costs.

Herman this week said the dispute should be with Tailwind Sports, the owner of the United States Postal Service-sponsored cycling team Armstrong rode for, and not the cyclist.

An unsuccessful effort was made to settle the case out of court. The details of those negotiations are remaining private.

"Unfortunately we still remained far apart," Tillotson added. "We intend to press our claim for the return of the money.

"We've sued both Tailwind and Mr Armstrong. We think both have the obligation to give back the money.

"Whether it's Mr Armstrong giving it back to us, or Tailwind getting it from Lance and giving it back to us, the result will be the same."

The filing of the lawsuit came after the United States Anti-Doping Agency announced Armstrong wants to "assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling".

Armstrong was given a two-week extension to co-operate with investigators, having initially been given until yesterday to confess all under oath.

USADA has set a new deadline after the 41-year-old said he would be unable to meet the one imposed due to prior time commitments.

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said in a statement: "We have been in communication with Mr Armstrong and his representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling.

"We have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on details to hopefully allow for this to happen."

USADA revealed last year that Armstrong had led "the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme sport has ever seen".

The UCI, cycling's world governing body, stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour titles - none of which were reassigned - and he was banned from sport for life.

Armstrong told Winfrey he would "be the first man through the door" to take part in a truth and reconciliation hearing.

And in an email interview with cyclingnews.com, the American was adamant a truth and reconciliation commission is the only way forward for all endurance sports.

"It's not the best way, it's the only way," he said. “As much as I'm the eye of the storm this is not about one man, one team, one director.

"This is about cycling and to be frank it's about ALL endurance sports."

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