x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Costs mount for Lance Armstrong after demand he repay Tour de France bonus

Lance Armstrong faces losing more than just his titles after being asked to repay a disputed Dh18.3m bonus he received after winning the Tour de France.

Lance Armstrong on the winners' podium at the 92nd Tour de France in July 2005.
Lance Armstrong on the winners' podium at the 92nd Tour de France in July 2005.

Disgraced Lance Armstrong faces losing more than his Tour de France titles after being asked to repay a disputed $5m (Dh18.3m) bonus.

The 41-year-old received the bonus payment after a legal battle with SCA Promotions, who had declined to pay the sum in the belief the American had doped to win his seven Tours titles between 1999 and 2005.

Now the International Cycling Union (UCI) has ratified sanctions demanded by the United States Anti-Doping Agency - namely the removal of all results dating from August 1, 1998 and a life ban - SCA Promotions will request the return of monies paid.

"Our contract with Mr Armstrong required us to make payments to him if he was the official winner of a certain number of Tour de France races: his fourth win, his fifth win and his sixth win," said Jeff Tillotson, SCA's lawyer.

"Now that he has been stripped of those titles - he is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France race - it is inappropriate and improper for him to keep those bonus amounts and we will be demanding them back and pursuing appropriate legal action if he does not return them.

"We are beginning now to start that process. We'll be demanding the money back and then we will be pursuing appropriate legal action."

Armstrong provided sworn testimony in the dispute in 2005, insisting he had never taken performance-enhancing drugs.

That has left him open to the possibility of facing charges of perjury, although he continues to deny any wrongdoing.

Tillotson added: "We're not punitive. We don't take any pleasure in Mr Armstrong's predicament. We're sad that it's come to this but we feel very strongly that Mr Armstrong was the creator of his own mess.

"I took Mr Armstrong's deposition, which means I got sworn testimony from him, when he boldly and flatly said he had never used performance-enhancing drugs.

"It's important that people tell the truth in legal proceedings and there are consequences for lying in those proceedings.

"Pursuing it for that is the authority and power of agencies beyond my client."

Armstrong already faces the possibility of repaying his Tour de France winnings following the UCI's decision to support the USADA ruling and strip him of his titles.

The UCI management committee will meet on Friday to discuss the "exact sporting consequences" of the decision, including whether the titles and prize money will be redistributed.

But Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme believes the race must not have a victor in the Armstrong years.

Prudhomme said: "The formal decision has to be taken by the UCI but for us, we must have a clean record. This period must be marked by the absence of winners.

"The UCI rules are clear. When a rider is disqualified, he must pay the prize money back."

The International Olympic Committee will await Friday's UCI meeting and further information before a decision is made on the bronze medal Armstrong won in Sydney in 2000.

Meanwhile Armstrong has removed all references to his seven Tour de France titles from his Twitter profile.

To his 3.38 million followers on the social networking site, Armstrong now simply states he is: "Raising my 5 kids. Fighting Cancer. Swim, bike, run and golf whenever I can."

 

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