Lance prosecution ‘unlikely’

A lawyer who questioned Lance Armstrong under oath believes the disgraced cyclist will avoid criminal prosecution for lying following his belated confession to using performance-enhancing drugs.

Armstrong admitted to doping during his record run of seven Tour de France wins, from 1999 to 2005, in a television interview with Oprah Winfrey last week, contradicting testimony he gave Dallas-based lawyer Jeff Tillotson in November 2005.

The long-awaited public admission opens up the 41-year-old Texan to a host of legal action. The passage of time means criminal charges of perjury are unlikely, but Tillotson’s clients, SCA Promotions is seeking to recoup $12 million (€9m) in prize money it paid Armstrong after losing its case more than seven years ago.

Tillotson said: “The statute of limitations for Mr Armstrong to be prosecuted criminally for perjury in Texas for what he said in our case has probably run. It’s probably too old a crime.

“Our goal in this would be to say: please don’t let Mr Armstrong keep that benefit of the lie. He told us a series of lies in our case that allowed him to get $12m from us. No-one should benefit from lying under oath.”

Since last Thursday and Friday night’s interview, Tillotson has been in contact with Armstrong’s lawyer, Austin-based Tim Herman, to inform him that SCA Promotions is prepared to open civil proceedings, if necessary.

Lengthy proceedings could follow unless Armstrong agrees a settlement.

Tillotson added: “If he wants to make amends, then this will resolve itself peacefully. If it doesn’t, then it’s going to come to litigation. If it comes to litigation, you’re looking at a resolution over the next year.”

Another legal case Armstrong faces is for damages won from The Sunday Times. David Walsh, the newspaper’s chief sports writer, led the investigative journalism into Armstrong’s misdemeanours. A Sunday Times spokesman said: “The Sunday Times believes our case for recovering the £1m he obtained from us by fraud is now even stronger (following the interview). We will be pursuing that case vigorously.”

Meanwhile, Brian Cookson, the man who helped transform the fortunes of British Cycling, has emerged as a strong contender to become president of the International Cycling Union (UCI) should the Armstrong doping scandal force the resignation of the current leadership.

The UCI have appointed an independent commission to report on the body’s handling of the Armstrong doping scandal, and if it is critical of current president Pat McQuaid, that could spell the end of the Irishman’s tenure.

That would put Cookson in the frame and though he admitted “mistakes were made”, he also stressed McQuaid “has done a good job in the last few years in pursuing dope cheats, and cycling has a far better record now.”

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