SA Could Have Grounds To Sue Armstrong; UCI President Calls Whistleblowers 'Scumbags'
Chip Le Grand noted Lance Armstrong's estimated personal fortune of $125M "is under siege from cycling authorities, event owners and sponsors from his drug-assisted career," according to Chip Le Grand of THE AUSTRALIAN. The South Australian government "may have grounds to sue Armstrong" if more evidence emerges that his doping extended to any of his three appearances in the Tour Down Under between '09 and '11. The SA government has received Crown-Solicitor advice "that it currently has no grounds to recoup money paid to him" because the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's case "concentrated on Armstrong's career up until his first retirement in '06." However, the USADA report contains "circumstantial evidence that he was still using drugs when he returned to the sport." Armstrong is already facing a $7.5M claim by a Texas insurer "to recover legal costs and bonuses he was paid for winning the 2004 Tour de France" and a potential lawsuit by the UCI (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/24). THE NATIONAL reported Armstrong has been asked "to repay a disputed $5M bonus" he won after winning a legal battle with SCA Promotions, which will "request the return of monies paid." SCA lawyer Jeff Tillotson said, "Our contract with Mr. Armstrong required us to make payments to him if he was the official winner of a certain number of Tour de France races: his fourth win, his fifth win and his sixth win." He added: "Now that he has been stripped of those titles - he is no longer the official winner of any Tour de France race - it is inappropriate and improper for him to keep those bonus amounts, and we will be demanding them back and pursuing appropriate legal action if he does not return them" (THE NATIONAL, 10/23).
CHANGING THE PAST: In Sydney, Rupert Guinness wrote former Int'l Cycling Union (UCI) VP Ray Godkin said that "in hindsight the Int'l Cycling Union could have pursued suspicions over Lance Armstrong earlier." Godkin backed UCI President Pat McQuaid's explanation that the UCI did not have ''the tools then that we have now'' to catch doping cheats. Godkin said, "'U.S. Cycling -- they could have been more vigorous because they had been talking about it for a long time -- USADA, but also [World Anti-Doping Agency]. They are all involved, including the UCI, if you like" (SMH, 10/24). In Sydney, Guinness also noted former Australian Sports Anti-Doping Agency Legal Dir Catherine Ordway believes that Cycling Australia "should have asked" former rider Matt White directly if he had doped during his racing career before signing him up as a professional coordinator and national men's team coach. White has recently stepped down from those positions. Ordway said that cycling officials "should have had heard enough suspicion about the state of drug use in cycling" while White rode for the U.S. Postal Service team of Armstrong '01-03 "to ask him outright if he had used drugs" (SMH, 10/24). Also in Sydney, Joe Kelly reported that the Labor Party "has opted to cut its funding to counter illicit drugs in sport," despite the recent revelations of endemic drug use in the cycling world. The government "hopes to claw back A$3.6M ($3.7M) over three years" from '13-14 by ending its contributions to the Illicit Drugs in Sport program (THE AUSTRALIAN, 10/23).
TO TELL OR NOT TO TELL: In London, Nick Hoult noted McQuaid has described the whistleblowers who exposed Armstrong's doping as "scumbags." McQuaid, who said that his resignation was not an option, "then attacked two former teammates of Armstrong -- Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis." British cyclist and former drug user David Millar, who now campaigns for a clean sport, asked the UCI to apologize. McQuaid responded: "I don't think the UCI should apologise. They didn't hold Millar's hand when he stuck a needle in his backside." McQuaid added, "Another thing that annoys me is that Landis and Hamilton are being made out to be heroes. They are as far from heroes as night and day. They are not heroes. They are scumbags" (TELEGRAPH, 10/23). REUTERS noted Hamilton, whose testimony helped bring down Armstrong, "has hit out" at McQuaid saying the UCI boss has "no place" in the sport. Hamilton wrote in a statement: "Instead of seizing an opportunity to instil hope for the next generation of cyclists, he continues to point fingers, shift blame and attack those who speak out, tactics that are no longer effective. Pat McQuaid has no place in cycling" (REUTERS, 10/23).