Newspaper wants back £300,000 it paid to settle libel claim in 2006, plus interest and costs

The Sunday Times has revealed that it is suing Lance Armstrong for the return of money paid for him to settle a libel claim, in a case that could cost the disgraced cyclist up to £1 million. In 2006, the newspaper paid Armstrong £300,000 in an out-of-court settlement relating to its publication in 2004 of allegations that he doped.

Now, in a letter sent to Armstrong's lawyers, The Sunday Times said: "It is clear that the proceedings were baseless and fraudulent. Your representations that you had never taken performance enhancing drugs were deliberately false."

The publication is suing for return of the £300,000 paid to Armstrong to settle that earlier action, brought in the High Court in London, plus interest and costs.

That case was concerned with the newspaper's publication of extracts from the book LA Confidentiel, which its chief sports writer David Walsh had co-written with Pierre Ballester.

The book itself has never been published in English, although earlier this month Walsh, recently named journalist of the year in the Press Gazette Awards, brought out a second book about Armstrong, called Seven Deadly Sins.

The Sunday Times has been considering its position regarding that libel settlement ever since Armstrong was banned from sport for life and stripped of results dating back to 1998, including those seven Tour de France titles he won between 1999 and 2005.

Armstrong, who regularly resorted to threats of legal action against those who pointed the finger at him, has never admitted taking performance enhancing drugs, although he chose not to contest the United States Anti-Doping Agency's charges against him.

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.