Lance Armstrong is a step closer to testifying under oath about doping after the Supreme Court of Texas on Friday denied his request to delay a deposition in the case against him brought by insurance company SCA Promotions.
SCA is suing for the return of $12 million it paid Armstrong in win bonuses for his victories in the Tour de France in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The arbitration panel that is hearing the case has set a date of June 12 for Armstrong to give evidence.
Armstrong was stripped of those victories and all others from 1998 onwards after the United States Anti-Doping Agency found in 2012 that he had been involved in a “systemic, sustained and highly professionalized team-run doping conspiracy.”
Armstrong has been fighting to avoid testifying under oath about that conspiracy. In his appeal to the Texas supreme court he claimed he was in danger of “irreparable harm from ongoing arbitration proceedings”.
The position of Armstrong’s legal team is that an agreement reached between him and SCA in 2006 is still valid. SCA had refused to pay Armstrong’s bonuses because persistent rumours that he had doped. Armstrong, who was still the official winner of the 2002-4 Tours at the time, sued and won.
But when USADA stripped Armstrong of his titles and he later confessed to doping on the Oprah Winfrey show, SCA brought a new case against him, contending that he had lied under oath when he previously claimed he had not doped.
Floyd Landis' suit
Armstrong is also the target of a federal whistleblower suit brought by former team-mate Floyd Landis and the US Department of Justice. It seems he is trying to avoid testifying under oath twice to avoid the risk of giving inconsistent testimony.
“SCA is pleased that it will get an opportunity to hold Mr. Armstrong accountable for his outrageous conduct during our prior legal proceedings,” Jeff Tillotson, SCA’s attorney, told Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today Sports. “Our position is simple. No one should be able to relentlessly perjure themselves and get away with it.”
Tillotson questioned Armstrong in the previous SCA case, which ended with an agreement that it could not be reopened. It’s that clause that Armstrong is trying to have enforced, even though the same arbitration panel that heard the previous case has decided that it does not apply.
"Just another day at the office"
Tillotson told The Dallas Morning News’s Robert Wilonsky that Armstrong’s only remaining option to block proceedings would be to go to the United States Supreme Court. However, he thinks that’s unlikely.
“SCA is just happy that this legal proceeding can move forward toward a conclusion,” said Tillotson. “SCA feels it’s entitled to any money it paid Mr. Armstrong and any money it spent fighting to recover it. That’s the goal, and the quicker we get to the goal the happier the client will be. It’s unfortunate he’s settled many of his legal battles but not this one, since this was the most egregious. That’s disappointing and frustrating to the client.
“For me, personally, it’s just another day at the office — though it’s not every day you you end up redeposing Lance Armstrong,” he said. “I am looking forward to getting the evidence.”
Our official grumpy Northerner, John has been riding bikes for over 30 years since discovering as an uncoordinated teen that a sport could be fun if it didn't require you to catch a ball or get in the way of a hulking prop forward.
Road touring was followed by mountain biking and a career racing in the mud that was as brief as it was unsuccessful.
Somewhere along the line came the discovery that he could string a few words together, followed by the even more remarkable discovery that people were mug enough to pay for this rather than expecting him to do an honest day's work. He's pretty certain he's worked for even more bike publications than Mat Brett.
The inevitable 30-something MAMIL transition saw him shift to skinny tyres and these days he lives in Cambridge where the lack of hills is more than made up for by the headwinds.