Lance Armstrong could be forced to repay millions of dollars in prize money and win bonuses following yesterday’s formal decision by the sport’s governing body to strip him of his seven Tour de France ‘victories’.
Pat McQuaid, President of the UCI, told a press conference that his organization fully accepted the findings of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) which had produced a 1,000-page reasoned decision dossier supporting its conclusion that Armstrong was a “serial cheat” who had led a sophisticated doping programme at the US Postal/Discovery cycling teams.
McQuaid’s announcement ratifies USADA’s action, leaving Armstrong with no hope that the case brought against him as a US athlete will be overturned by those who sanctioned the events in which he competed in Europe. He will now be stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Two parties who handed over money as a result of Armstrong’s victories – SCA Promotions and the organisers of the Tour de France, the ASO – have publicly stated their intention to reclaim money claimed by the Texan.
SCA Promotions paid out on an insurance policy taken out by Tailwind Sports, owner of the US Postal Service team, against bonuses due to Armstrong if he won a sixth Tour de France.
Armstrong achieved his target with ‘victory’ in the 2004 Tour de France, but SCA refused to pay in the belief that he had cheated to win. Armstrong took the case to court in 2005 and won, claiming $5m plus interest.
Jeffrey M. Tillotson, lawyer for SCA Promotions, said he would begin legal proceedings on his client’s behalf in five working days (Monday October 29) should Armstrong fail to respond to a formal demand for the return of the money.
Another party to have declared its intention of recovering funds from Armstrong is the ASO, organisers of the Tour de France. Race director, Christian Prudhomme, told the Reuters news agency that he expected Armstrong to return nearly three million Euros clamed in prize money from his seven discredited victories.
“The UCI rules are clear. When a rider loses the result where a prize is awarded, they have to give it back,” said Prudhomme.