Cycling: Lance Armstrong faces $12m suit over bonuses

Disgraced cyclist braced for legal battles

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The Independent Online

A Texan company is planning to file a lawsuit this week to recoup $12 m (£7.6m) from Lance Armstrong.

After Armstrong claimed his 2002, 2003 and 2004 Tour de France titles, SCA Promotions insured bonuses paid to him, but the company now wants the money back.

The American, who had his Tour de France titles stripped from him in October, confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs for all seven of his wins in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey last week.

"We will likely file that lawsuit as soon as next week unless we get a satisfactory response from Armstrong's camp," SCA lawyer Jeff Tillotson said. "We paid him $12m for being the official winner of three Tour de France races and swearing under oath he was a clean rider during those races."

Tailwind Sports, owner of the US Postal team, took out the insurance policy to cover performance bonuses payable to Armstrong if he claimed his fourth, fifth and sixth Tour victories.

The two parties have been in dispute before, with SCA initially refusing to pay out money covering the bonus for Armstrong's sixth Tour win in 2004, totalling $5m, because of suspicions over whether he was clean. Armstrong eventually won the battle at an arbitration hearing in 2005 because he was still named the "official winner".

Shortly after Armstrong had his Tour wins taken away in October, the company said it would make a formal demand for the money, which stood at $11m. Tillotson is now supporting his client's bid to recoup $12m after increasing legal costs and interest.

"He's now told us, at least through Oprah, that he lied when he told us he was a clean rider," Tillotson added. "If that money is not returned to us, my client will pursue litigation. He feels Lance Armstrong neither has the legal right, nor frankly the moral right to keep those funds."