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Armstrong TV interview could land ex-cycling star with further legal challenges - analyst

posted 9 Jan 2013, 13:35 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 9 Jan 2013, 13:35 ]

Any decision by Lance Armstrong to break his silence about his lifetime ban from cycling could bring fresh legal challenges for the disgraced former Tour de France champion, a legal commentator says.

PARISFRANCE (JANUARY 9, 2013) (REUTERS) -  If Lance Armstrong does break his silence over his lifetime ban on cycling and the doping charges made against him in a U.S. television interview next week, the disgraced former Tour de France champion could face fresh legal woes, a legal commentator said on Wednesday (January 9).

Christopher Mesnooh, a lawyer who practises in both France and the United States, said one of the big legal threats he faces is the U.S. Department of Justice, which is reported by several U.S. media to be joining an action by his former team-mate Floyd Landis.

Under the so-called whistleblower lawsuit, Landis is alleging that Armstrong defrauded the U.S. Postal Service, whose cycling team Armstrong rode for.

"There is this one action brought by Floyd Landis in the United States and theDepartment of Justice has not yet decided whether it's going to join as a party in this action. He will want to make sure that he will deal with that and try to remove that legal action from the Department of Justice so as to reduce the chances of perjury. But he will not be able to negotiate in advance with all potential interested parties and so perjury among other potential charges will weigh on him for months if not years to come," Mesnooh said.

Past sponsors who paid Armstrong millions for his backing will also be watching the interview to see how it might impact their chances of recouping money, he added.

"There are other possible legal recourses that can be taken against him. There is an ongoing action brought by SCA which is an insurance company in Texas which paid him 7-1/2 million dollars for a number of his gold medals for having won the Tour de France. And they will certainly be in a much stronger position that as a result of his lies they were obligated to pay him the money they paid him and they will try to claw back the money, the 7-1/2 million dollars plus damages," Mesnooh said.

The interview, to be broadcast on the Oprah Winfrey Network on Jan. 17, will be the first the American cyclist has conducted since receiving his ban and being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.

"Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career," the network said in a statement.

On Saturday, the New York Times reported that Armstrong, 41, had told associates and anti-doping officials he was considering an admission of using banned drugs.

The Times said Armstrong hoped to persuade anti-doping officials to allow him to resume competition in athletic events that adhere to the World Anti-Doping Code, under which the Texan is currently subject to a lifetime ban.

However, Armstrong's lawyer Tim Herman later told USA Today that there had been no talks with anti-doping bodies about any admission.

Armstrong has always vehemently denied charges of doping and has never been proven to have tested positive.

An Oct. 10 report from the U.S. anti-doping body USADA cited Armstrong's involvement in what it characterized as the "most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen," involving anabolic steroids, human growth hormone, blood transfusions and other doping.

Less than two weeks later, Armstrong's seven Tour de France victories were nullified and he was banned from cycling for life after the International Cycling Union ratified the USADA's sanctions against him.