A court in Texas has ordered a temporary halt to proceedings in a case relating to $12 million in bonuses paid to Lance Armstrong in relation to bonuses for three of the seven editions of the Tour de France he won between 1999 and 2005 and was stripped of in 2012.
The ruling also means that the disgraced cyclist, who faces legal action on a number of fronts, will not be required to give a deposition under oath.
Armstrong and Tailwind Sports, the company that managed his former US Postal Service team, reached an out-of-court settlement in 2006 after he had sued it to pay the bonuses it had insured for winning the race in 2002, 2003 and 2004.
Last year, after his televised confession to Oprah Winfrey that he had doped during all seven of those Tour de France wins, SCA sought to reopen the case and last October the same three-man arbitration panel that had heard the original proceedings agreed.
Since then, Armstrong and Tailwind Sports have tried to block the action, saying that the 2006 settlement means that SCA waived any rights to have the case reopened.
They cite a clause in the settlement that reads “no party may challenge, appeal or attempt to set aside" the money paid, and that the agreement is "fully and forever binding."
Last week, a judge in Dallas rejected his request to stop the arbitration panel from rehearing the case, reports USA Today, and set a date of 17 March for it to be heard.
But the newspaper says that a fresh appeal from Armstrong to the Fifth Court of Appeals, based in Dallas, to prevent SCA’s lawyers from questioning him under oath, which they had hoped to do this Thursday, has succeeded.
Issuing the ruling on Tuesday, Judge Kerry Fitzgerald called a halt to all proceedings and said that the court would review the entire case later this month.
Responding to the latest court decision, Armstrong’s lawyer Tim Herman said: "We are pleased the court will consider the issue of whether a final settlement, to which all parties agreed would end all disputes, can be reopened when one side has buyer's remorse."
A spokesman for SCA said that the company "respects the decision" of the court, without additional comment.
The initial hearing in 2005 provided the most extensive allegations up to that point of Armstrong’s doping.
Those included former team mate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy recounting how they had heard Armstrong admit to doctors treating him for cancer in 1996 that he had used banned substances.
Armstrong has admitted lying under oath in a deposition he gave in 2005 relating to that case. It is unlikely he will face perjury proceedings in relation to that due to a statute of limitations.
His reluctance to submit himself to testifying under oath again as SCA wishes may partly be due to his insistence that he did not dope after he came out of retirement in 2009, something the United States Anti-Doping Agency said he did.
Any admission on Armstrong’s part that he did use performance-enhancing drugs during that period could result in his former sponsors seeking to recoup money from him, since such actions would not currently be time-barred.
In November last year, he avoided having to give sworn testimony in a case brought by Acceptance Insurance, which had insured his Tour de France bonuses from 1999 to 2001, by making a last-minute out-of-court settlement.
He still faces other lawsuits including one brought by former US Postal teammate Floyd Landis under whistleblower legislation relating to wrongful use of federal funds, which has been joined by the US Government.
That action could potentially see Armstrong hit with a penalty of up to nearly $100 million.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.