My Life With Lance
Drugs and the Peloton
Armstrong eventually dropped the French suit and reached a settlement with the Times, which is published by a subsidiary of News International, a property of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. As part of the settlement, the newspaper issued a statement saying it did not mean to accuse Armstrong of doping. Other details were sealed, but some reports suggest something like $750,000 changed hands.
News International declined to comment to Outside about what this new payload of evidence and tell-all would mean to the settlement. But in a recent message to it readers, the Sunday Times stated that the terms “are likely to be reviewed in the light of the U.S. anti-doping agency’s decision.” That sounds ominous, but it’s a long way from reviewing terms to trying to recoup a settlement that’s already been paid out.
The same situation prevails with another legal dispute, known as the SCA case. SCA is a Dallas company that provides a kind of performance insurance for sporting events. It had contracted to pay Armstrong a $5 million bonus if he won the 2004 tour. But then Walsh’s doping charges were aired, and SCA, arguing that Armstrong had cheated, refused to pay. Armstrong sued and the case went into private arbitration. The panel ordered SCA to pay the $5 million plus $2.5 million in interest.
SCA has said that it, too, is exploring options. But as Socolow points out, “it would be extremely unlikely, given all the time that’s passed, that you could reopen that matter. There are instances where one party seeks to undo it because it claims the other party defrauded, but it’s fairly rare.” In many federal courts, for example, there’s a one-year limitation on reopening a civil case that’s already been decided, even in light of new evidence like fraud or perjury. The justice system wants finality.
Arbitration is different, and parties to an arbitration agreement can write their own rules. But once terms are settled, money is paid out, and seven years have gone by, it’s highly unlikely that SCA would ever succeed in getting back its money.
And once again, Armstrong has zero incentive to reveal any history of doping that would only confirm what other publications have printed.
ARMSTRONG COULD LOSE PRIZE MONEY
That’s true no matter what he says or doesn’t say, depending on what the UCI, or the Tour de France itself, does next. But there’s an example indicating that at least a portion of Armstrong’s prize money may be safe. In 2007, Danish cyclist Bjarne Riis admitted to doping during his 1996 Tour de France win. Subsequently, Tour officials said they would not try to recapture any of Riis’s winnings because of a 10-year limitation on doing so.
If the same logic holds for Armstrong, his 1999, 2000, 2001, and possibly 2002 winnings aren’t likely to be at risk, even if the UCI were to erase all seven victories from the record books. And once again, if the UCI or the Tour demand money back, they might have to fight in court to get it.