Armstrong faces perjury and return of $7m


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The Independent Online

"So ends one of the most sordid chapters in sporting history," are the last words of the United States Anti-Doping Agency's damning investigation into cyclist Lance Armstrong.

But the publication of the Usada's decision marks only the beginning of a mountain of difficulties facing the 41-year-old Texan, who is still, technically, a seven-time Tour de France winner.

Even though Armstrong decided in August to stop fighting doping allegations, which he continues to deny, he will not be able to ignore the report's many consequences. He may face perjury charges, have to hand back millions of dollars in prize money (and an Olympic medal) and could lose millions in donations to his Lance Armstrong Foundation for cancer survivors.

Armstrong denied doping under oath to a Dallas court in 2005, testimony that Usada has called "materially false and misleading". Although Armstrong maintains his innocence, if US prosecutors disagree there are grounds for perjury charges.

The cyclist went to a court for civil arbitration in November 2005, when SCA Promotions Inc and Ted Lyonhamman Insurance Services did not want to pay him a $5m bonus for winning his sixth consecutive Tour de France amid growing doping rumours. Among seven potentially perjurious statements, Armstrong claimed to have never taken any performance enhancing drug in connection with his cycling career, despite evidence now regarded as "irrefutable".

Cycling's governing body, the Union Cycliste International (UCI), has 21 days to respond to Usada. If the UCI decides to strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, which it almost certainly will, he will be required to return around $7m in prize money.

Whether he will have to also return the bronze medal he won in the Olympic Time Trial in Sydney in 2000 is still unclear.