Texas judge orders Lance Armstrong to answer questions about doping
Who knew what and when, insurance company wants to know
In yet another twist to Lance Armstrong’s on-going legal saga, a Texas judge has ordered the disgraced former pro cyclist to answer questions under oath about his doping.
The answers could prove explosive. Acceptance Insurance Holding is suing Armstrong in relation to bonuses it paid him from 1999 to 2001. The company wants to know when Armstrong’s associates and cycling officials including International Cycling Union (UCI) president Pat McQuaid knew of his doping.
Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak last week ordered Armstrong to provide documents and written answers to a series of questions by the end of September, according to the Associated Press. The case has been set for trial in April 2014.
Pat McQuaid is standing for re-election as UCI president on September 27.
Acceptance insured Lance Armstrong’s US Postal Service team against the risk of paying win bonuses for the 1999, 2000 and 2001 Tours de France. It is seeking to recover $3 million from Armstrong after he was stripped of those victories.
The company alleges that Armstrong was at the centre of a longstanding conspiracy within his teams to cheat by the use of performance-enhancing drugs, and to cover up his cheating.
Armstrong’s lawyers opposed Acceptance’s demands for answers, saying that the company was indulging in “harassing, malicious ... fishing expedition” intended to “make a spectacle of Armstrong’s doping.” They pointed out that Armstrong has already admitted cheating.
That admission came after years of denials when the United States Anti-Doping Agency found Armstrong guilty of running “a massive doping conspiracy.”
“Armstrong’s career on USPS/Discovery Channel… was fuelled from start to finish by doping,” USADA said.
Armstrong subsequently appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and admitted doping, but declined to implicate others.
Lawyers for Acceptance want to know what his legal advisors and then-wife Kristin Armstrong knew about his doping practices. Armstrong’s lawyers argue that such questions are covered by spouse or attorney-client privilege, but Acceptance says those protections are not valid if the parties were aware fraud was being committed.
Witness statements in the USADA’s report from at least three of Armstrong’s former team-mates mention Kristin Armstrong’s involvement in, or at least knowledge of, doping on his teams.
Armstrong is currently fighting several lawsuits involving his career as a professional cyclist. The US Justice Department is part of former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis’ whistle-blower lawsuit against Armstrong. Under the United States’ False Claims Act, whistle-blowers can share with the government in any recovery of money based upon their disclosures..
Armstrong is also being sued by SCA Promotions, which guaranteed his later Tour de France bonuses. He recently settled for an undisclosed sum with the Sunday Times. The paper settled a libel case out of court with Armstrong in 2006.
Armstrong’s total liability if all the suits find against him is estimated at $135 million dollars. His personal net worth is estimated at $125 million.