SBD/January 21, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

SCA Promotions Plans To File Suit Against Lance Armstrong For $12M

Armstrong is facing multiple lawsuits as a result of his doping admission
Texas-based insurance firm SCA Promotions "plans to file a lawsuit against” Lance Armstrong for $12M (all figures U.S.), according to Ian McCourt of the GUARDIAN. SCA released a statement saying that even though execs are “happy about Armstrong's confession, they still intend to pursue their legal options for the money that was paid to him ‘under fraudulent circumstances.’” SCA attorney Jeff Tillotson said, "We have made a demand for return of the $12M and, if that money is not returned to us, my client will pursue litigation. He feels Lance Armstrong has neither the legal right nor frankly the moral right to keep those funds" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 1/20). The London Times said that it is “confident of recouping the [$1.6M] it paid out on a libel action” taken by Armstrong now that he admitted taking banned substances in his Oprah Winfrey interview. But the paper's chief sports writer, David Walsh, on Friday said that he “did not want an apology from the disgraced cyclist.” The GUARDIAN’s Lisa O’Carroll noted News Int'l, parent company of the London Times, is “suing Armstrong to recover the [$476,000] it paid in an out-of-court settlement in 2006.” It is also “seeking to recover its legal costs and interest, which took the full amount paid out” to $1.6M (GUARDIAN, 1/19). Former Armstrong sponsor Trek Bicycle released a statement that read in part, "Trek ended our sponsorship agreement with Armstrong last year after the USADA report and have no plans to re-engage with him." In Milwaukee, Don Walker noted Trek “did not elaborate on what it meant by monitoring the developments of Armstrong's statements.” There may be “prominent sponsors such as Trek who may try to recover money they paid to Armstrong during the years he was doping” (JSONLINE.com, 1/19).

OWN-ING UP: In L.A., Meg James noted Thursday’s airing of “Oprah and Lance Armstrong: The Worldwide Exclusive” attracted 4.3 million viewers to the Oprah Winfrey Network. The interview “delivered solid numbers to become OWN's highest-rated night ever” (LATIMES.com, 1/18). In Boston, Mark Perigard wrote Winfrey “proved herself to be a great interviewer -- setting Armstrong at ease, never going on the attack, asking straightforward, important questions.” But the two nights “should have been edited down to one special,” as it was “a lot to sit through with little payoff” (BOSTON HERALD, 1/19). In Tampa, Tom Jones gave Winfrey an “A for her interview” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 1/20). In N.Y., Brian Stelter wrote the first half on Thursday “spurred a huge amount of chatter on social networking Web sites.” Research firm Bluefin Labs "found that an unofficial Twitter hashtag for the interview, #Doprah (a combination of doping and Oprah), was used more frequently than the one OWN encouraged, #OWNTV.” Data from Bluefin showed that about 61% of the Twitter comments about the interview "were from men.” OWN normally “skews much more toward women," with only 33% of Twitter comments about the channel "coming from men.” The audience for the interview also “skewed toward men” (NYTIMES.com, 1/18). 

WHAT COMES NEXT? In N.Y., Juliet Macur noted USADA CEO Travis Tygart and WADA Dir General David Howman are “eager to see if Armstrong will come to them to testify under oath about his doping.” They want to see “if he is willing to provide details of how he doped and got away with it for so long.” Armstrong, by giving that information to antidoping authorities, “could help improve a sport fighting to rid itself of a dark cloud of doping” (N.Y. TIMES, 1/20).

GOING TO THE BIG SCREEN: A Paramount Pictures spokesperson on Friday said that the studio and J.J. Abrams' production company, Bad Robot, are “planning a biopic” about Armstrong. The AP’s Christy Lemire reported the two parties have “secured the rights” to Macur's upcoming book "Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong," due out in June. No director, writer, star or start date “have been set” (AP, 1/19).
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