Monthly Archives: May 2013

Are lawsuits enough to punish Armstrong?

Of all the statements to emerge from the mouth of Lance Armstrong or those who represent him in recent months, Wednesday’s offering from his lawyer Elliot Peters is one of the most disingenuous uttered throughout the whole, sorry affair.

Describing the United States government’s long anticipated law suit against Armstrong for defrauding sponsor US Postal (USPS) as “opportunistic and insincere”, Peters goes on to say: “The USPS was never the victim of fraud. Lance Armstrong rode his heart out for the USPS team, and gave the brand tremendous exposure during the sponsorship years.”

True enough. But we now know that vast exposure was based on one of the biggest lies sport has ever been forced to confront.

Since Armstrong confessed all to Oprah Winfrey in January,

former partners have been lining up lawsuits to retrieve some of the money they paid the American during his cycling career.

The US government said in February it would seek to join the whistleblower case brought by Armstrong’s former team-mate Floyd Landis to get back some of the money the US Postal Service paid to sponsor his team.

Lance Armstrong

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Lance Armstrong admits doping to win cycling titles


they have confirmed they are seeking $17.9m

which they say Armstrong “unjustly enriched” himself with between 1998 and 2004 when he won six of his seven Tour de France titles.

But the final amount could be many times that.

The case is being brought under the False Claims Act, which allows claimants to recoup three times the amount they lost. The government is also claiming breach of contract.

It’s hard to know how much Armstrong is worth. Estimates in the US have ranged between $100m and $125m, although the true figure could be less.

Whatever the size of his fortune, there is no question Armstrong now faces the prospect of losing everything.

Even before the move by the American government, he was already subject to a number of potentially costly lawsuits.

At the start of March, Acceptance Insurance Company filed a claim for $3m in bonuses they paid him and his management company Tailwind Sports.

A few weeks earlier he was sued in a federal court in Los Angeles for making false claims in relation to his sponsorship by supplement manufacturer FRS.


then there is the case brought by the Sunday Times

who want him to repay the damages he was awarded after he successfully sued them for libel back in 2004. They also want their costs which could take the total bill from that case to near £1m.

No doubt Armstrong and his legal team will have weighed all this up when he made his decision to speak to Oprah earlier this year.

He may write the legal bills off as an expensive but necessary expense on his road to redemption.

We already know his desire to compete again is strong after he was denied the chance to make a comeback in a masters swimming event.

For a driven competitor like Armstrong that’s the most effective way to punish him.

Because no matter how much money the US government or his former sponsors recoup, the cost to cycling and to sport’s reputation has been far, far greater.

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Dowsett angered by Di Luca inclusion

Britain’s Alex Dowsett has said suspended Danilo Di Luca should never have been allowed to ride in this year’s Giro d’Italia and has echoed

Sir Chris Hoy’s call for lifetime bans.

The Italian faces the third ban of his career after

testing positive for EPO.

Dowsett, who rides for Spanish team Movistar, told

BBC Essex:

“Di Luca should never have been in the race from the start.

“Why they don’t introduce lifetime bans is beyond me.”

Di Luca’s offences

Danilo Di Luca

  • 2007: Banned for three months for seeing a banned doctor
  • 2009: Two-year ban, later reduced by nine months, after positive test for blood booster CERA
  • 2013: Suspended, awaiting result of B sample, for using erythropoietin (EPO)

Di Luca was sacked by his Vini Fantini-Selle team after 17 stages of this month’s Giro, which was won by Vincenzo Nibali, after it was confirmed he failed an out-of-competition test carried out at his home in April.

The 37-year-old has been suspended from racing, pending the result of a B sample, and now faces a lifetime ban as it is his third offence.

He previously received a three-month suspension after winning the 2007 Giro for seeing a banned doctor and a two-year ban for a failed test at the 2009 Giro, which was subsequently reduced by nine months after he collaborated with Italian anti-doping authorities.

Dowsett, who won

the first individual time trial of this year’s Giro on his Grand Tour debut,

has backed the stance of six-time Olympic gold medallist Hoy by calling for lifetime bans for any serious doping offence.

“They would maybe think twice before they take that risk. If someone my age got done [at the moment], they could be back at 27,” said the 24-year-old from Maldon.

“You don’t peak in cycling until, well, look at Wiggins, he’s 33.

“It’s ridiculous. When it’s black and white that they’ve cheated they shouldn’t be let back in.”

Di Luca was one of two riders removed from the Giro, along with Frenchman Sylvain Georges, 29,

who tested positive for heptaminol.

Dowsett added: “It’s such a shame because we’ve got this small minority making us all look bad.

“It’s a sad state of affairs and it’s made such huge press in cycling. I felt sorry for Nibali because it takes something away from his win and he worked hard for that.”

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Cavendish ‘can beat Merckx’s record’

An “almost unbeatable” Mark Cavendish can beat

Eddy Merckx’s

Tour de France stage win record of 34, says president of British Cycling Brian Cookson.

Cavendish, 28, is the fifth cyclist to win the points race on all three Grand Tours after

Sunday’s Giro d’Italia red jersey win.

Cavendish on Giro victory

“What keeps me always motivated is I just want to win. I’ve always just wanted to win, I’ve been addicted to it since I was a child.

“Just wanting to win brings the best out of everyone. Especially when you have a team built around you, you have to deliver 100%. That’s what I try to do.

“If someone comes along who is faster, I’ll go home, work harder, and come back faster the next year. It’s as simple as this.”

The Manxman is fourth on the list of Tour de France stage wins with 23.

“He has certainly got a good chance of overtaking the great Eddy Merckx during his career,” said Cookson.

Cavendish won the equivalent points classifications at the

2010 Vuelta a Espana 


2011 Tour de France

and his feat at this year’s Giro sees him join a group containing Uzbekistan’s Djamolidine Abdoujaparov, Italy’s Alessandro Petacchi, France’s Laurent Jalabert and Belgian legend Merckx.

Points in cycling are given for high finishes on each stage and, in some cases, for winning sprints at certain places along the route. The points jersey is thought of as the second most important to win at a cycling stage race behind the general classification, which is the winner of the event by overall time.

Merckx, 67, is regarded as the greatest cyclist of all time with five Tour de France wins between 1969 to 1974 and a total of 11 Grand Tours – including five Giros and a single Vuelta. He also won three world titles.

Carry on Cavendish

Mark Cavendish

  • Mark Cavendish has now won 41 stages across the three Grand Tours
  • He has won 15 in the Giro d’Italia, three at the Vuelta a Espana and 23 at the Tour de France
  • He is sixth on the list of all-time stage wins at the Grand Tours, 23 behind overall record holder Eddy Merckx, but just two off fourth place

The Isle of Man’s Cavendish won the final stage of last year’s Tour de France on the Champs-Elysees for a

record fourth successive year

and, in doing so, became the most successful sprinter in Tour history with 23 stage wins.

“He has won that (the sprinters jersey at the Tour de France) before, he has won numerous stages before. I think he is going to do it again,” Cookson told BBC Radio 5 live ahead of this year’s Tour, which starts on 29 June.

“There are one or two sprinters who weren’t at the Giro but Mark seems to have the measure of them. I don’t think anybody has ever had the same strike rate as Mark, he seems to be almost unbeatable once he gets into that final kilometre.”

Victory on the final stage in Brescia saw Cavendish become the first sprinter in five years to win the Giro’s red points jersey.

He missed out by a single point last year,

after a crash

hurt his hopes early in the event, but won both intermediate sprints on Sunday’s flat 197km stage to overhaul an 11-point deficit on overall Italian winner Vincenzo Nibali, before edging the sprint finish.

“No British rider has ever won it in all the big tours in the same way as Mark has and the people who have won it previously have been true greats of cycling, so it is a fantastic achievement by Mark,” said Cookson.

“He has gone through hell and high water and those who have been following the jersey this year will have seen the

weather has been absolutely appalling.

Mark has achieved something fantastic.”

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Hoy voices Scots’ Olympic concerns

Scots could find it harder to compete at Olympic level if the country were independent, Sir Chris Hoy has warned.

The six-time Olympic cycling champion did not say which way he would vote in next year’s referendum but expressed concerns at the lack of first-rate facilities in his native Scotland.

“It would be harder initially to establish themselves in a new training environment,” said the 37-year-old.

“It’s not to say it’s impossible but it would just be a different challenge.”

Hoy said he has decided which way he will be voting in the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence and revealed that he had rejected “indirect approaches” from both sides in the debate, telling BBC Radio 5 live he does not want to get involved in a “hornet’s nest”.

Golden Hoy – the gold medals

Sir Chris Hoy

Olympic Games

  • 2012: Team sprint keirin
  • 2008: Team sprint, keirin sprint
  • 2004: 1km track time trial

World Championships

  • 2012: Keirin
  • 2010: Keirin
  • 2008: Sprint keirin
  • 2007: Keirin 1km time trial
  • 2006: 1km time trial
  • 2005: Team sprint
  • 2004: 1km time trial
  • 2002: 1km time trial team sprint

Commonwealth Games

  • 2006: Team sprint
  • 2002: 1km time trial

“I don’t want to get drawn into it,” he explained.

“I’ve said numerous times how proud I am to be Scottish and how proud I have been to compete for Britain too and I don’t think these two things necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.”

Asked whether he knew what he would vote for, Hoy said: “I suppose I do, yeah.”

On the prospect of having a separate Olympic team in an independent Scotland, he continued: “You look at the results of the Scottish athletes over the years and we have had some fantastic athletes and some fantastic results.

“But it would not be quite as simple as just saying, ‘there is a Scottish athlete, they have won a gold medal, therefore that’s a medal for Scotland’. Most of the athletes have had to move to facilities which are often outwith Scotland.

“I had to move down to Manchester because there was not an indoor facility in Scotland. I went to Manchester, trained with the British team and benefited from that.

“The first thing you have to do if you’re really serious about it is you have to provide the facilities and the coaching infrastructure.

“In Scotland, we have the Institute of Sport and SportScotland there to try to give support to the athletes.

“There is support, but it is not quite as simple as saying ‘we had x number of medallists from these Games, therefore that will translate into the same medals next time’.”

Hoy was selected as the flag-bearer for Team GB at London 2012’s opening ceremony and won two gold medals on the track, making him Britain’s most successful Olympian.

A velodrome named after him has since opened in Glasgow, the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, but he will not compete next year, having

announced his retirement in April.

Hoy plans to

assist the Scottish Commonwealth Games team in a mentoring role.

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Nike ends Livestrong partnership

Lance Armstrong in Wanze, Belgium in July 2010Nike says it helped distribute 87 million yellow wristbands for the Livestrong Foundation

Sportswear giant Nike is ceasing to make products for the Livestrong Foundation, the cancer charity founded by disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.

But Livestrong’s largest corporate backer said it would continue funding the charity directly after this year.

The foundation said it expected the move after Armstrong admitted using performance-enhancing drugs.

Last year, Armstrong stepped away from the foundation he created in 1997 after his diagnosis with testicular cancer.

“We are proud of the collective efforts between Nike and the Livestrong Foundation to raise more than $100m (£66m) to help people with cancer,” Nike said in a statement, adding its “Holiday 2013″ line of Livestrong products would be its last.

Nike added that it helped distribute 87 million signature yellow wristbands and improve health outcomes for more than 2.5 million people suffering from cancer.

Livestrong spokeswoman Katherine McLane said the charity had expected the change.

“Could there be fallout? Of course,” she told reporters. “We remain enormously confident. We are in strong fiscal shape.”

In a statement, the foundation said it was grateful for Nike’s nine years of support.

In January, Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France winner, admitted after years of denial that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs.

He told US television personality Oprah Winfrey that stepping down as Livestrong’s chairman was his “most humbling moment”.

Nike ended its personal sponsorship of Armstrong in October, amid allegations he had used the drugs and encouraged his team-mates to participate in a doping programme.

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Johnny’s favourite stores