Freedom of speech is not always free. Lance Armstrong may lose tens of millions of dollars in various courts over the next few years because of numerous blood doping, fraud and misrepresentation claims against him, say MSN Money, National Publc Radio and other media sources today. CBS News also reports tonight that Armstrong may now be facing “ruinous lawsuits” following his interview with Oprah Winfrey, which concluded tonight on the OWN network at 9 p.m. EST. In that interview, Armstrong admitted for the first time to his use of illegal performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career.
Lance Armstrong was the celebrated seven-time title holder of the Tour de France, the world’s most prestigious and financially lucrative cycling race. In 2012, however, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency concluded that Armstrong used illegal blood doping techniques to achieve those victories. Citing the USADA report, ABC News said yesterday:
[Armstrong and] The U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team “ran the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”
The International Cycling Union stripped Armstrong of his Tour De France titles, and the International Olympic Committee stripped him of the bronze medal he won at the 2000 Olympic Games. For years, Armstrong forcefully denied blood doping allegations, but now admits to his career-spanning use of banned substances and medical procedures, according to CBS News earlier today.
Armstrong has already lost sponsorships and his LiveStrong charitable role because of the blood doping allegations and scandal. For example, CNN reported last year that Armstrong lost million-dollar endorsement deals with Nike and Anheuser-Busch. Trek Bicycle Corp., Radioshack, 24HR Fitness, helmet manufacturer Giro, honey producer Honey Stringer, and Sports drink producer FRS also disengaged from Armstrong last year according to USA Today.
Armstrong is also embroiled in various court actions in America and potentially abroad. According to a report yesterday from Bill Chappel, a producer for National Public Radio, Texas-based SCA Promotions is seeking the return of $12 million in performance bonuses it paid to Armstrong. Armstrong’s former teammate Floyd Landis is suing Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team under the U.S. False Claims Act, seeking $30–40 million in damages. Britain’s The Sunday Times paid a $500,000 settlement to Armstrong in 2006 arising from a libel lawsuit and now wants that money back, plus $1 million in legal fees and costs. Several millions dollars are also sought by Australia from Armstrong for appearance fees, and the International Cycling Union is seeking Armstrong’s return of Tour de France prize monies.
NPR also reported yesterday that Armstrong may face federal criminal charges, ranging from drug trafficking, to money laundering to perjury. Armstrong’s civil liability stems from his alleged blood doping, but Florida bicycle lawyer Spencer Aronfeld opined earlier this week that Armstrong “is subject to multiple law suits for fraud, insurance fraud, breach of contract and slander.” The outcome of these pending civil and criminal claims may take years to litigate or settle.
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