Lance Armstrong sued over $12 mln in Tour de France prize money
REUTERS - Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong on Thursday was sued by a company that paid him about $12 million for three of his seven Tour de France wins that have since been stripped from him for his use of banned drugs.
SCA Promotions Inc, in a suit filed in Texas state court in Dallas, alleges Armstrong and his management company, Tailwind Sports, defrauded SCA into paying Armstrong $12.1 million in bonuses and interest for his 2002, 2003 and 2004 Tour de France wins by lying about Armstrong's use of performance-enhancing drugs during those events.
Last month, Armstrong ended years of vehement denial and admitted in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had cheated his way to a record seven Tour de France titles through the use of banned, performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong has been banned from cycling for life and stripped of race wins, including all of his Tour de France victories.
"Lance Armstrong cheated to win all of his Tour de France victories," SCA Chief Executive Officer Robert Hamman said in a statement. "He has admitted as much on national TV."
"As a result of Lance Armstrong's unjustly achieved victories and related activities, SCA paid $12,120,000 to Tailwind Sports Inc," Hamman said. "SCA also suffered reputational damage and substantial loss of business."
This will not be the first court battle between Armstrong and the Texas-based company, and the cyclist's attorneys said the latest suit has no merit.
Due to doping allegations at the time, SCA initially refused to pay Armstrong $5 million in bonus money that Tailwind Sports, the owner of Armstrong's U.S. Postal team, had promised him if he won a sixth Tour title in 2004. Tailwind Sports took out insurance coverage with SCA.
But SCA was ordered to pay up after Armstrong took the company to court, swearing under oath that he was a clean rider who won fairly.
SCA paid the $5 million performance bonus, plus $2.5 million in interest and attorney fees, as part of a 2006 legal settlement.
That agreement's "plain words bars SCA from ever revisiting the settlement it entered into in 2006," Armstrong attorney Mark Fabiani said in an email on Thursday.
Armstrong also faces a civil whistleblower lawsuit accusing him of fraud. That suit was filed by former teammate Floyd Landis and the U.S. Justice Department has not said whether it intends to join the suit.
Also, last month two California men sued Armstrong and his book publishers for fraud and false advertising, claiming his best-selling memoirs, billed as non-fiction, were revealed to be filled with lies after his confession to systematic doping.
(Writing by Dan Burns; Editing by Dale Hudson and David Gregorio)
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