Disgraced former professional cyclist Lance Armstrong and his management firm have been ordered to pay millions for deceiving a promotions company. The arbitration panel called it the "most devious" deception in sport.
Lance Armstrong and Tailwind Sports Corp., who owned his Tour de France teams, were ordered to pay $10 million (8.8 million euros) to a promotions company for what a three person arbitration panel called an "unparalleled pageant of international perjury, fraud and conspiracy" that covered up his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Dallas-based SCA Promotions announced the decision on Monday. The promoters had paid Armstrong and Tailwind, the now-dissolved team management firm, about $12 million in bonuses during Armstrong's career, which saw him win seven Tour de France titles. Those victories were stripped after Armstrong and his US Postal Service teams were found to have used banned drugs despite numerous denials.
SCA sued the cyclist to get its money back after Armstrong's cheating was exposed by a report from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and Armstrong confessed during an interview on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
'The most devious sustained deception ever perpetrated'
"Perjury must never be profitable," the majority wrote in the 2-1 decision. "Tailwind Sports Corp. and Lance Armstrong have justly earned wide public condemnation. That is an inadequate deterrent. Deception demands real, meaningful sanctions." They also called Armstrong's lies "almost certainly the most devious sustained deception ever perpetrated in world sporting history."
The dissenting opinion, which came from Armstrong's pick for the panel, Ted Lyon, accused his fellow panel members of wanting to do what they thought was right rather than following the law.
SCA President Bob Hamman lauded the ruling, saying it was "hard to describe" how much Lance Armstrong had damaged their company, who paid him and his team large bonuses in 2002, 2003, and 2004, before holding back in 2005, when the original allegations against Armstrong surfaced. The cyclist disputed this in court, and while the case produced the evidence later used against him, Armstrong continued to deny doping and SCA was ordered to pay him $7 million. Armstrong argued this could not be overturned according to Texas state law.
Armstrong is also being sued by the federal government and former teammate Floyd Landis in a whistleblower fraud action over his team's sponsorship contract with the US Postal Service. That case will not begin before 2016.
es/rc (AP, dpa)