Company that paid Lance Armstrong bonuses wants money back
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas promotional company that paid millions of dollars to Lance Armstrong for winning the Tour de France said on Monday it was considering legal action to get the money back after the American cyclist was stripped of his Tour titles.
Armstrong had his seven Tour de France victories nullified and was banned for life on Monday after the International Cycling Union (UCI) ratified the United States Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) sanctions against him.
Dallas-based SCA Promotions paid Armstrong $7.5 million for winning his sixth Tour title in 2004 - $5 million as a performance bonus and $2.5 million in interest and attorney fees - as part of a 2006 legal settlement. Armstrong had sued SCA when it withheld the payment after doping allegations against him surfaced.
Tailwind Sports, the owner of Armstrong's U.S. Postal team, had promised the cyclist a $5 million bonus if he won a sixth Tour title and it took out insurance coverage with SCA.
In all, SCA Promotions paid Armstrong some $12 million, the company's lawyer Jeffrey Dorough said.
It was unclear exactly how much SCA may seek to recover.
"Mr. Armstrong is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France races, and as a result it is inappropriate and improper for him to retain any bonus payments made by SCA," Dorough said in a statement.
He said SCA Promotions was "digesting the UCI's decision" and that the company was taking into consideration the possibility that Armstrong or the World Anti-Doping Agency could appeal.
Earlier this month, USADA published a report on Armstrong that said the now-retired rider had been involved in the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen."
"I was sickened by what I read in the USADA report," UCI President Pat McQuaid said on Monday.
Armstrong, 41, who has denied doping, had previously elected not to contest the USADA charges, prompting USADA to propose his punishment pending confirmation from cycling's world governing body.
Armstrong, widely considered one of the greatest cyclists of all time, says he has never failed a doping test.
He said he had stopped contesting the charges after years of probes and rumors because "there comes a point in every man's life when he has to say, 'Enough is enough.'"
(Reporting By Corrie MacLaggan; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)