Cycling

Armstrong gets 2-week break

2013-02-07 12:08
Lance Armstrong (File)

Washington - Lance Armstrong, facing a multi-million-dollar lawsuit and reportedly the subject of a new criminal probe, got a bit of breathing room on Wednesday from the US Anti-Doping Agency.

USADA gave him two more weeks to co-operate with anti-doping authorities by testifying under oath, now that Armstrong has admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Dallas insurance company SCA Promotions said it would file a $12 million lawsuit against Armstrong over bonuses it paid to him for multiple Tour de France victories.

The company had asked Armstrong to repay the money after he was stripped last year of his record seven Tour de France titles and banned for life after USADA found him to be the key figure in a sophisticated doping scheme on his US Postal Service teams.

"I can now confirm that we are filing tomorrow (Thursday)," SCA attorney Jeff Dorough said on Wednesday. "We think there are several avenues for us to seek recovery on this."

Armstrong sued SCA and won after the company delayed his 2005 bonus payment because of reports in Europe that the American used performance-enhancing drugs.

"Armstrong and his lawyers said flat-out at that time that if he was ever stripped of the titles they would pay the money back," Dorough said. "We're just seeking to hold them to their promises."

That might not be the only legal battle looming for Armstrong now that he has admitted via a confessional TV interview with Oprah Winfrey that he did dope during all seven of his Tour de France triumphs.

ABC News reported on Wednesday that federal agents are investigating Armstrong for crimes including obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation.

Citing an anonymous source, ABC News said the current probe is focused on different charges from those previously investigated in a federal probe that was dropped last year.

US Attorney Andre Birotte, who led the prior investigation, said he had no current plans to press charges despite Armstrong's recent doping admissions, although that could change.

Birotte's investigation was centered on doping, fraud, conspiracy and Armstrong's denials of such crimes when he was the lead rider at US Postal.

The ABC News source, quoted on condition of anonymity, said: "Birotte does not speak for the federal government as a whole. Agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation."

USA Today reported on Wednesday that the Food and Drug Administration was investigating Armstrong.

FDA special agent Jeff Novitzy once played a key role in the BALCO steroid distribution probe and worked to build a case against Armstrong before the government declined to file charges in February of 2012.

FDA spokesperson Sarah Clark-Lynn said on Wednesday, however, that the FDA "is not currently investigating on Lance Armstrong."

Former team-mate Tyler Hamilton opened the door to possible witness tampering charges against Armstrong when he described a confrontation with Armstrong at a bar in Colorado in 2011 -- when Hamilton was a witness in the then on-going federal probe.

"The biggest thing he said is: 'You know, we're going to make your life a living, f-ing hell, both in the courtroom and out,'" Hamilton recalled Armstrong saying.

After the government probe of Armstrong ended without charges in 2012, USADA continued its own investigation, using the testimony of former team-mates to build a devastating case against him.

After Armstrong finally came clean last month, USADA chief Travis Tygart had given him until Wednesday to co-operate with anti-doping authorities by testifying under oath about his activities.

Armstrong had said he couldn't meet that deadline, and his attorney Tim Herman told USA Today that Armstrong thought the International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) were better suited to battle doping in the sport.

However, on Wednesday night it became clear that Armstrong was dealing with USADA when Tygart said he had granted Armstrong a two-week extension to co-operate.

"We have been in communication with Mr. Armstrong and his representatives and we understand that he does want to be part of the solution and assist in the effort to clean up the sport of cycling," Tygart said in a statement.

"We have agreed to his request for an additional two weeks to work on details to hopefully allow for this to happen."

Read more on:    lance armstrong  |  cycling
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