Can things get any worse for Lance Armstrong? Most definitely.
Armstrong got hit with another double-dose of bad news on Monday. Cycling’s world governing body, the International Cycling Union (UCI), officially stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles. “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling … He deserves to be forgotten in cycling,” UCI president Pat McQuaid said in a news conference. McQuaid said he was “sickened” by the revelations in the United States Anti-Doping Agency’s report.
(This claim, incidentally, rang hollow to vindicated journalist David Walsh, whom Armstrong sued for writing a book about Armstrong’s alleged doping. McQuaid, after all, could have more thoroughly investigated the suspicions about Armstrong, and reached a similar conclusion to USADA).
After the UCI’s decision was released, Oakley, the sunglasses and sports wear maker, became the latest company to dump Armstrong.
Armstrong has lost his titles, his sponsors, and his chairmanship of cancer awareness charity Livestrong. Now, he could lose some cash — in lawsuits. The Sunday Times of London, which published an article referencing Walsh’s book, L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong, in 2004, is considering suing Armstrong over a libel case the cyclist brought against the paper back in the mid-2000s. Armstrong won that case and reached a financial settlement with the paper: now that evidence has emerged that Armstrong indeed doped, the paper is “considering taking action to recover money spent on a libel case Armstrong brought and to pursue him for fraud.”
And the money woes continue. It’s been reported that Armstrong will need to repay his Tour de France winnings, estimated at $3.85 million, with Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme describing the UCI decision as “totally logical.” And a Texas promotional company that paid Armstrong millions in bonus money, for winning the Tour de France, may look to get that money back, now that Armstrong isn’t a champion. As Reuters reports:
Dallas-based SCA Promotions paid Armstrong $7.5 million for winning his sixth Tour title in 2004 – $5 million as a performance bonus and $2.5 million in interest and attorney fees – as part of a 2006 legal settlement. Armstrong had sued SCA when it withheld the payment after doping allegations against him surfaced.
Tailwind Sports, the owner of Armstrong’s U.S. Postal team, had promised the cyclist a $5 million bonus if he won a sixth Tour title and it took out insurance coverage with SCA.
In all, SCA Promotions paid Armstrong some $12 million, the company’s lawyer Jeffrey Dorough said.
It was unclear exactly how much SCA may seek to recover.
“Mr. Armstrong is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France races, and as a result it is inappropriate and improper for him to retain any bonus payments made by SCA,” Dorough said in a statement.
He said SCA Promotions was “digesting the UCI’s decision” and that the company was taking into consideration the possibility that Armstrong or the World Anti-Doping Agency could appeal.
In February, the U.S. dropped a federal criminal investigation into Armstrong’s doping. Now the USADA has uncovered what seems to be new evidence against Armstrong, could the feds reopen the case? Armstrong has testified, under oath, that he did not dope, leaving him susceptible to a perjury charge. “I would be shocked if the case wasn’t reopened,” says Peter Keane, ex-dean of the Golden Gate University School of Law. Keane has closely followed doping trials against professional athletes. “I’d imagine that there is a fair amount of lobbying amongst investigators to rev it up. For career investigators and prosecutors, there’s the thrill of the hunt. They want a trophy case on their wall.” Especially since high-profile doping cases against Roger Clemens, who was acquitted, and Barry Bonds, who was found guilty of obstruction of justice, but escaped perjury, didn’t go the government’s way.
For Armstrong, the pain might just be beginning.