Lance Armstrong Ordered To Pay $10 Million In Fraud Dispute
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And we've got news now of Lance Armstrong. It's been two years since he admitted using banned drugs during his long reign over elite bicycle racing. Since then it's been hard for him to avoid bad news. Yesterday, a company that once paid Armstrong millions of dollars for winning the prestigious Tour de France announced he has to pay 10 million of that money back. The award was the result of an arbitration hearing involving Armstrong and his former management company. And joining us is NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman. Good morning.
TOM GOLDMAN, BYLINE: Hi, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So the company, SCA Promotions, says the $10 million Armstrong now owes is believed to be, quote, "the largest award of sanctions assessed against an individual in American judicial history." Wow. What led to that?
GOLDMAN: It's a 10-year-old case. SCA paid Armstrong millions in bonuses for winning consecutive Tours de France - 2002, 2003. Of course, he won seven in a row, all of them stripped after his doping admission. Now, SCA withheld payment after Armstrong won the 2004 race and serious doping allegations surfaced. Armstrong sued SCA. The case went to arbitration. It was settled in 2006, and Armstrong got $7.5 million. But the evidence and testimony from that case ultimately led to his downfall.
In 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency used some of that evidence and testimony to ban Armstrong for life and strip his Tour de France titles. That led to Armstrong coming clean to Oprah Winfrey in 2013. I think most people remember that. And when that happened, SCA moved to recoup its money. There was a new arbitration hearing several months ago. Arbitrators by a 2-to-1 vote decided to award this $10 million back to SCA, and that award was announced yesterday.
MONTAGNE: And what did the arbitrators who voted for the sanctions say about it?
GOLDMAN: Well, they came out with a strongly worded ruling. They said they were punishing Lance Armstrong for, quote, "engaging in an unparalleled pageant of international perjury, fraud and conspiracy." The arbitrators sanctioned Armstrong not just for lying under oath about his banned drug use in the original SCA hearing, but they say for lying again in the recent hearing and for never showing remorse.
MONTAGNE: And will Lance Armstrong be writing a very big check today?
GOLDMAN: Not yet. He says he plans to fight the ruling. SCA is based in Dallas, and it's gone to state district court in Dallas to ask that the arbitration award be turned into a final judgment. If that happens within the next 30 to 60 days, then SCA can collect the money. If he still refuses, the company can seize money from bank account, stocks, cash, jewelry, his vacation home in Hawaii even.
MONTAGNE: You mentioned Lance Armstrong plans to fight. Any comment from him or his attorneys?
GOLDMAN: Well, his long-time attorney Tim Herman said in a statement to USA Today no court or arbitrator has ever reopened a matter which was fully and finally settled. Now, that refers to the original 2006 settlement in the SCA case. But SCA lawyer Jeff Tillotson says the settlement wasn't reopened. He says the company always retained the right to punish Armstrong. Now, there was a dissenting arbitrator, who was chosen by the Armstrong camp. He objected to the sanctions, saying it's not based on Texas law. But obviously that opinion did not carry the day.
MONTAGNE: Tom, thanks.
GOLDMAN: You're welcome.
MONTAGNE: That's NPR sports correspondent Tom Goldman.
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