• Cycling

Lance won't repay £7.7m; new criminal probe starts

ESPN staff
February 6, 2013
Lance Armstrong will not repay endorsement earnings © Getty Images

Lance Armstrong's lawyer has insisted the disgraced cyclist will keep the £7.7 million he earned in bonus money for winning the Tour de France.

The company that paid the endorsements, SCA Promotions, is set to launch a lawsuit this week in an attempt to reclaim the money it awarded to Armstrong, after his seven Tour titles were stripped of him for his central role in an extensive doping ring.

But Armstrong's lawyer, Tim Herman, said there is no precedent for disgraced sportspeople repaying sponsorship money they have received.

"My only point is no athlete ever, to my understanding, has ever gone back and paid back his compensation," Herman told USA Today. "Not [New Orleans Saints coach] Sean Payton (who was banned for one NFL season for his involvement in a 'bounty' scandal - where rewards were offered for injuries to opposition players) or anybody else.

"They were suspended, but nobody said you've got to give your paycheck back."

Furthermore, a legal loophole - SCA's deal was made with Armstrong's management company, not the rider personally - should mean the Texan is able to keep the money earned.

However, there was some bad news for Armstrong this week - with ABC News reporting that a new criminal investigation is to be opened into the 41-year-old.

The news comes a year after a two-year investigation into the former cyclist was closed without any charges being brought - although the evidence compiled was used as part of the US anti-doping report that ultimately led to his downfall.

ABC reports that the new investigation will focus on Armstrong's bullying and intimidation of associates, rather than the drug-taking and potential fraud that was the primary subject of the initial review.

"Agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation," a 'top level source' told the news network.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.