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.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.