PARIS, Oct 23, 2012 (AFP) – World cycling’s decision to strip Lance
Armstrong of his record seven Tour de France wins could cost the shamed US
rider millions, as calls mounted on Tuesday for tougher action to restore the
sport’s shattered image.
The International Cycling Union (UCI) on Monday gave its backing to a
damning US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) dossier that placed the Texan at the
heart of the biggest doping programme in sport, erasing his record back to
August 1, 1998.
But as the 41-year-old’s major triumphs were scrubbed from the history
books and officials vowed to up the fight against banned substances, moves
began to recoup his prize money, bonuses and other pay-outs.
Tour de France director Christian Prudhomme is seeking repayment of nearly
2.95 million euros ($3.8 million) from Armstrong’s successes in cycling’s most
grueling and celebrated race between 1999 and 2005.
During that period, Tailwind Sports, the parent company of his US Postal
Service team, took out a policy with sports insurance firm SCA Promotions,
paying a premium to cover bonuses paid for his Tour victories.
SCA withheld a $5 million bonus due after Armstrong’s sixth Tour win in
2004 because of doping allegations in Europe. The rider took the Dallas,
Texas, firm to court and was awarded the cash, plus $2.5 million in legal fees
The firm’s lawyer, Jeffrey Dorough, told AFP: “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.”
Elsewhere, Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper has said it is considering
legal action against Armstrong to recover money spent defending a defamation
case over doping allegations, which was settled in 2004.
The settlement was not disclosed but reports have suggested the case cost
the weekly one million pounds ($1.6 million, 1.2 million euros).
Armstrong, who reportedly has an estimated net worth of $125 million, has
already taken a financial hit, as high-profile sponsors including sportswear
firm Nike have dropped him from marketing campaigns.
Business magazine Forbes said on its website on Monday that Armstrong could
lose $15 million a year in endorsements and speaking fees.
On the legal front, he could yet face court action for perjury after
swearing on oath that he never doped. The maximum penalty is up to 30 years in
prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.
The Armstrong case has cast a dark cloud over world cycling, with its most
recognizable star fallen from grace and the USADA dossier outlining the extent
and scope of the use of banned substances in the sport in the late 1990s and
Current and former cyclists have said they feel cheated by Armstrong, who
battled back from life-threatening cancer to stage what was billed at the time
as the greatest comeback in sport.
Five-time Tour de France winner Miguel Indurain, though, said he still
believed Armstrong was innocent, even as another of the American’s team-mates,
Norwegian Steffen Kjaergaard, admitted taking the banned blood booster
That Armstrong deceived everyone for so long has also hit the credibility
of the UCI, who have been accused of, but strongly deny, turning a blind eye
to his activities and even accepting donations to cover up positive tests.
The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, John Fahey, said on Tuesday that
the sport’s administrators had to take responsibility for that time when
“everybody doped”, despite UCI chief Pat McQuaid’s insistence that only riders
were to blame.
“Is that period gone? That’s something which I think the jury is out on and
I think UCI are meeting this Friday to consider a number of aspects, including
what their response must be, going forward,” the Australian told ABC Radio.
In a separate interview with Australia’s Fox Sports, Fahey added that
cycling would only regain credibility when the senior officials on watch
during the “debacle” were removed.
“I don’t think there’s any credibility if they don’t do that and I think
they need to get confidence back into the sport, so that its millions of
supporters around the world will watch and support the sport going forward,”