It’s hard to watch the Lance Armstrong legal drama unfold without that old adage echoing in the head: “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
The world-famous cyclist’s life and reputation has been under constant attack for years over alleged doping and now the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has stripped Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles, and the International Cycling Union is contemplating whether to pursue the money he was awarded for his victories.
Armstrong has yet to publicly comment on this most grievous turn in his battle against the USADA,
although he has elected not to contest the ruling. His most recent legal response to the ruling body
was that its evidence was contradictory and that evidentiary testimony was unreliable, but many of
Armstrong’s past critics have responded by saying that only now are they free of the cyclist’s abusive
threats and lies.
The battle between the USADA and Armstrong’s army of lawyers may seem confounding to anyone
curious about the legality of its claims against the racer and their legal impact. Federal prosecutors
refused to pursue a criminal investigation into Armstrong’s actions some time ago when a judge
essentially said it was a matter to be settled within the cycling community, but claims that he lied
under oath may expose him to legal liability, particularly when it comes to refunding monies donated
or awarded under the assumption that Armstrong was telling the truth.
Some experts estimate that Armstrong may have to forfeit as much as $10 million in prize earnings,
which includes a demand from SCA Promotions for $7 million in bonuses it paid to the racer for
his Tour de France victories. Regardless of the outcome, accountants point out that his $125 million
fortune will not be threatened.
That means the only tangible punishment Armstrong will receive for his alleged crimes will be his
banishment from cycling and the Olympics, and the death of his status as a legendary cyclist. And,
some would argue that perhaps that’s enough.