American cyclist Lance Armstrong will have to shell out $10m to sports insurance company SCA promotions. The company had paid this amount as bonuses to Armstrong when he won the Tour de France title in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Armstrong had been fighting a legal battle for the last couple of years, but an arbitration panel in Texas ruled the decision in favour of the company.
"We are very pleased with this result," said SCA's president and founder Bob Hamman in a statement. "It is hard to describe how much harm Lance Armstrong's web of lies caused SCA but this is a good first start towards repairing that damage."
Armstrong had strongly denied using performance enhancing drugs in an hearing in 2005. Dallas Attorney Jeffrey Tillotson went to Austin to depose Armstrong after there were rumors of his wrongdoing were rampant in the media.
"I race the bike straight up fair and square," he testified during the same proceedings. The SCA couldn’t prove it’s allegations and hence settled for a $7.5 million deal with Armstrong and Tailwind in 2006.
The SCA promotions team did not give up. They built up a strong case backed by testimony of Armstrong’s former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife Betsy. The duo had testified that they heard Armstrong admit to using banned drugs during a hospital stay in Indiana in 1996.
Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles after he was found to using performance enhancing drugs. The US Anti doping agency exposed his wrongdoing and Armstrong confessed to his crime in an interview with Oprah Winfrey.
The fight is not over yet. Armstrong’s attorneys will challenge the arbitration ruling. “But since it’s an arbitration award, it’s a huge, huge uphill battle to try to set it aside,” says the attorney. The $10 million is “to punish him and compensate us. We’ll continue to fight them on other claims, but as a first step toward getting compensation for what Armstrong did to SCA, this is a great first step, Tillotson said.