Lance Armstrong, who recently admitted to Oprah Winfrey that he cheated to win all his Tour de France titles, has no intentions of paying back nearly $12 million in bonus money that he received, according to a USA Today sports report.
Tailwind Sports, which was the owner of Armstrong’s cycling team, included bonuses in its contract with Armstrong for Tour de France wins. In 2004 the company became suspicious of Armstrong doping and withheld his bonus money. Armstrong took the company to court and testified under oath that he never used performance enhancing drugs, and the company paid the bonus money.
Now that Armstrong has admitted to his transgressions, Tailwind plans to file a lawsuit next week to recoup their money. They will seek around $12.5 million, which includes legal fees, according to the report.
Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman, views the situation from a different perspective. He compared his client’s situation to other sports figures who have been disciplined by their sport but have not been forced to give their paychecks back.
“My only point is no athlete ever, to my understanding, has ever gone back and paid back his compensation,” Herman said. “Not (New Orleans Saints coach) Sean Payton or anybody else. They were suspended, but nobody said you’ve got to give your paycheck back.”
Armstrong received a lifetime ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency and the World Anti-Doping Agency for his use of banned drugs and blood transfusions to propel himself to the top of the cycling world during 1999-2005.
Jeff Tillotson, attorney for SCA Promotions, which insured the Tailwind bonuses, feels that he will be victorious in recovering the money.
“I thought he was remorseful,” Tillotson said Monday after seeing Armstrong’s interview. “Does he seriously think he can escape liability by maintaining this fiction?”
Herman believes that his client will be able to escape liability easily because the settlement terms of the case state it cannot be reopened. He also believes Tailwind had an obligation to pay Armstrong the bonuses even if SCA chose to cover or not cover the cost.
Armstrong’s legal battles continue, but now he is on the opposite side of the table.