Entertainment & Sports Law

Lance Armstrong is sued for the return of $12 million in prize money

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Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong
in 2006. Featureflash

An insurance company is suing disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong for the return of the more than $12 million in prize money it says it paid him for winning the Tour de France.

The Dallas-based company, SCA Promotions, says it wants its money back because Armstrong has been stripped of his seven tour titles and has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs, the New York Times reports.

The suit, filed Thursday in a Texas state court, also names Armstrong’s agent, Bill Stapleton, and Armstrong’s former management company, Tailwind Sports, as defendants.

SCA alleges that it paid Armstrong and Tailwind more than $12 million in prize money due to a “deliberate lie” perpetuated by Armstrong. It also claims that Armstrong committed fraud when he said under oath that he had never used performance-enhancing drugs.

“By now, everyone knows that Lance Armstrong perpetuated what may well be the most outrageous, coldhearted and elaborate lie in the history of sports,” the suit says, adding that Armstrong was “stunningly ruthless” when it came to perpetuating the lie.

The suit includes screenshots of Armstrong’s Jan. 14 interview with Oprah Winfrey, during which Armstrong admitted for the first time using performance-enhancing drugs, the Tex Parte Blog reports. It also juxtaposes a photo of Armstrong and Winfrey with a photo of Armstrong testifying under oath during a 2005 deposition, where he denied using performance-enhancing drugs or banned substances.

Tim Herman, one of Armstrong’s lawyers, couldn’t be reached for comment. But the suit says Herman has previously acknowledged that Armstrong would have to return the prize money if he were ever stripped of his tour titles.

Jeffrey Tillotson, one of SCA’s lawyers, said Armstrong and his representatives “were confident and cocky” back then that that would never happen.

“It was like they were saying, ‘If you can find a unicorn and produce him, of course we will give you your money back,’” he said. “To them, losing those titles was unimaginable.”

Armstrong is also the subject of a class-action suit by purchasers of his autobiography, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, who claim they never would have bought the book if they knew the truth about his doping.

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