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Legal battles could lie ahead for Lance Armstrong as old court cases come under spotlight

SCA Promotions and Sunday Times newspaper considering options regarding actions they lost to former cyclist in light of USADA evidence

Lance Armstrong could lose out to the tune of millions of pounds in civil cases, and even face criminal perjury charges following the sheer volume and detail of the allegations against him in the USADA reasoned decision, published this week.

The former cyclist could potentially be forced to pay back amounts including $7.5 million to SCA Promotions and a large libel settlement from the Sunday Times newspaper.

Armstrong could also face perjury charges arising from an arbitration hearing in Dallas in 2005 where he said on oath that he had never taken banned substances.

The Dallas case was brought after SCA refused to pay $5 million dollar bonus to Armstrong amid widespread rumours of his cheating. But Armstrong gave evidence to contest the claims, and eventually received a settlement totaling $7.5 million.

"At this time, SCA will await the UCI's response to the USADA report, and once the UCI decides what course of action it will take, we will assess our legal options," Jeffrey Dorough, a lawyer for SCA, told AFP.

There is also a possibility that justice officials in California will re-examine a closed file from earlier this year on Armstrong, in which the cyclist was alleged to have used drugs and misused funds while part of the US government funded US Postal Service team.

Peter Keane, a law professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco, said: "The Justice Department is coming under a lot of pressure to take action. I am sure they are taking a second look at anything Armstrong was involved in.

"The USADA report has re-opened a number of problems for him."

The Sunday Times newspaper has reaffirmed that it is considering legal action against Lance Armstrong to recover the money it spent settling a libel case over an article in 2004 regarding his doping allegations.

In 2006 the cyclist settled out of court after the journalist David Walsh and the deputy Sunday Times sports editor, Alan English, published the article, which referred to the book co-written by Walsh, LA Confidential - The Secrets of Lance Armstrong.

A Sunday Times spokeswoman confirmed that Rupert Murdoch's News Corp, parent company of the Sunday Times, is "considering taking action to recover the money spent on a libel case he (Armstrong) brought and to pursue him for fraud."

The amount of the settlement was not disclosed at the time, but the following statement was jointly issued by the parties to the action:

"The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance enhancing drugs and sincerely apologised for any such impression.

"Mr Armstrong has always vigorously opposed drugs in sport and appreciates the Sunday Times's efforts to also address the problem."

One senior source at the newspaper told Reuters that the case cost it about $1 million.

Mark Fabiani, Armstrong's spokesman, said that he had no comment on the Sunday Times' threat of legal action, and that the cyclist still strongly denied all the doping allegations.

A reopening of the Sunday Times case was "entirely implausible," he said. "There is not a single thing in the USADA report that the US attorney did not have," he said.

Whether or not a perjury case could be successful is unclear. Experts have warned that it could require years of legal argument and enormous financial cost to bring Armstrong into court to defend himself.

In 2001 Jeffrey Archer was jailed for perjury in the UK for lying in his 1987 libel case against the Daily Star. In the US though, it's less clear. A re-examination of the US Postal file in California would require political will from the US Attorney General in Washington.

In the SCA settlement, both parties agreed at the outset to accept the outcome as final, unless there is fraud in the process. The USADA findings could help to prove fraud, but it might be a long road.

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