Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Lance Armstrong’s legal team doubts cyclist will have to return $12 million bonus
Armstrong may be sued since the bonus came after winning the titles recently denounced.
DALLAS Hours before Lance Armstrong confessed his sins to Oprah Winfrey last month, Dallas attorney Jeff Tillotson said he was perhaps a day away from suing the cyclist in order to retrieve a $12 million bonus paid by local sports-insurance company SCA Promotions in 2006. But that suit has yet to surface. Tillotson has said in subsequent emails it’s coming, but so far it’s a waiting game.
But as far as Armstrong’s representatives are concerned, the suit could come today, tomorrow or never, and it won’t make a bit of difference.
“We’d like to let the agreement speak for itself,” says Mark Fabiani, the so-called “PR guru” hired by Armstrong in 2010. And that’s all he’ll say on the subject.
The agreement to which he refers is the 2006 settlement in the lawsuit filed in Dallas County by SCA. The insurer tried to keep from cutting Armstrong a check for $12 million, which he was due for winning the Tour de France in 2002, ’03 and ’04. SCA had insured the bonuses on behalf of Tailwind Sports, which owned the U.S. Postal Service team for which Armstrong raced. Tailwind paid SCA $200,000, and if Armstrong lost those races, SCA would keep the money. But if he won — and he did, at least till those titles were stripped from him in October — SCA would have to pay up.
Which it finally agreed to do in February 2006 in the compromise settlement agreement you’ll find below. But Tillotson told The Dallas Morning News in January that the Plano native’s admission that he doped “may mean to us he’s more willing to understand the consequences of his actions, and perhaps that will play into it.”
USA Today reports that SCA’s legal team still expects to file suit this week. Armstrong’s Austin-based attorney Tim Herman isn’t concerned. He tells the newspaper that admissions aside, “No athlete ever, to my understanding, has ever gone back and paid back his compensation. Not [New Orleans Saints coach] Sean Payton or anybody else. They were suspended, but nobody said you’ve got to give your paycheck back.”
Sources familiar with the situation say that Armstrong’s camp and SCA’s legal team have had some contact in recent days, but that there’s no chance of a settlement. Armstrong’s team believes that when SCA signed the agreement, it forfeited its right to reopen that particular can of worms, and that this isn’t about doping at all, but dotted lines signed years ago.