Lance Armstrong’s attorneys have launched a fresh attempt to have a $12 million lawsuit brought by insurer SCA Promotions set aside. In October, a three-member arbitration panel voted two-to-one to reopen the case.
Armstrong and the company that owned his US Postal Service team, Tailwind Sports, reached a settlement with SCA in 2006. They had sued the insurers for bonus money they claimed was due to him for winning the Tour de France in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
SCA had withheld the money due to concerns that Armstrong had cheated to win those three editions of the race. After being banned for life and stripped of all seven of his Tour de France victories in October 2012, the American finally admitted to having doped his way to those wins in January last year.
According to Dallas News, court documents filed last Monday on behalf of Armstrong and Tailwind requesting a stay of proceedings show that one of the members of the arbitration panel, Ted B. Lyons, opposed SCA’s request to have the case reopened.
Tailwind and Armstrong say that SCA waived any rights to reclaim the money when it settled with them in 2006 following a two-year legal battle in which Armstrong maintained he was riding clean. The settlement says that “no party may challenge, appeal or attempt to set aside the Arbitration Award.”
However, in a ruling on the case dated 29 October last year, two of the arbitrators, Richard Faulkner and Richard Chernick, describe that settlement as no more than “the private equivalent of temporary ‘cease-fire.’”
They added: “Hostilities between these parties resumed and continued as anticipated albeit at varying intensity. … The ability of both tribunals to address and determine disputes within the parameters of the parties’ agreements is unquestioned.”
The third member of the panel, Lyons, believes however that it has no power to “re-decide claims that were resolved seven years ago.”
He wrote: “What Armstrong did, if true, is morally reprehensible, but the law does not allow this Panel to address it at this time.”
Lyons was appointed to the panel – and is remunerated - by Armstrong, while Chernick is SCA’s appointee, and Faulkner was jointly appointed by both parties.
SCA decided to try and have the case reopened following Armstrong’s confession to Oprah Winfrey last year, saying that because he had lied under oath, it had been misled into settling with him.
When the arbitration panel’s decision was announced in October, Jeffrey Dorough, acting for SCA Promotions, told Bloomberg: “There’s still a fight ahead but at least we’re allowed to get in the ring at this point.”
It’s not the only legal action Armstrong faces, with potentially the most damaging being the one brought under whistleblower legislation by his former team-mate, Floyd Landis.
The US government has joined that action, which could result in Armstrong having to pay tens of millions of dollars if it is held that government funds, in the form of US Postal’s sponsorship, were misused to fund the team’s doping programme.
Some of the documents relating to the SCA case, including the motion to stay, the arbitration panel’s rulings and the 2006 agreement between Armstrong and SCA, have been posted to the file-sharing website, Scribd.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.