Lance Armstrong last won the Tour de France in 2005. He remains the most important bicyclist in the United States.
Since admitting using performance enhancing drugs Armstrong’s legal situation has become complicated and expensive. He has been defending multiple suits that endanger a fortune that was estimated to be more than $100 million. The suits are based on Armstrong obtaining money under false pretenses.
In December Armstrong settled a law suit in which an insurance company sought the return of $3 million paid to him as bonuses for winning the Tours de France in 1999, 2000, and 2001. Armstrong settled the suit the day before he was scheduled to testify.
Armstrong is defending another law suit seeking the return of $12 million he received as bonuses for winning the Tours in 2002, 2003, and 2004.
The case that risks Armstrong’s entire fortune is one in which the United States Postal Service is suing for the return of the $40 million it paid to sponsor Armstrong’s team from 1998 through 2004. If the USPS wins, a court can order triple damages be paid.
Faced with this thought, Armstrong has one way to deflect responsibility. There are two additional sponsors of the USPS team who can write a $100 million check less painfully than Armstrong. One is Nike. The second is Thomas Weisel, a wealthy financier.
Nike may prove useful to Armstrong as a future sponsor. Weisel has less potential future value to Armstrong. In the recently settled suit, Armstrong answered written interrogatories under oath that Thomas Weisel was aware of doping by the USPS team and in pro cycling in general. This statement is being used to attempt to keep Weisel as a defendant in the USPS suit.
Armstrong has been accused of damaging many people over the years who accused him of doping. One of them is Floyd Landis. He won the 2006 Tour de France before he was stripped of the title for doping. Armstrong has been instrumental in keeping Landis out of the bicycling industry since he admitted doping. Landis is the person who initiated the USPS suit as a whistleblower. In a touch of irony, Landis will receive a percentage of the money recovered by the suit. He will benefit from Armstrong’s loss.