After years of dodging the legal system, Lance Armstrong was finally called to testify under oath by a Texas court yesterday.
The disgraced cyclist was forced to provide sworn videotaped testimony about his doping history as part of a fraud case filed against him by SCA Promotions, a sports insurance company in Dallas.
Closed to the public, the deposition was a long time in the making, after Armstrong’s legal team spent months of fighting before a Texas appeals court and the Texas Supreme Court to stop the deposition from taking place.
Both courts rejected his request, forcing him to appear for questions under SCA Promotions attorney Jeffrey Tillotson, who recently said he is the only opposing attorney to interview Armstrong under oath about doping. In a previous case involving SCA Promotions, Tillotson also questioned Armstrong under oath when he lied and denied doping in 2005-06.
Tillotson declined comment to the media after yesterday’s deposition Thursday afternoon in Austin, Texas. Armstrong’s attorney, Tim Herman, also declined comment.
The current case stems from a lawsuit the company filed against Armstrong in February 2013, seeking the return of $12 million in costs and bonuses it paid him for winning the Tour de France from 2002 to 2004.
The case later moved to arbitration, where a panel is scheduled to hear the case later this summer. Armstrong was subpoenaed for Thursday’s deposition as part of an evidentiary process before the hearing.
In a separate fraud lawsuit filed by the federal government, Armstrong was scheduled for another deposition on June 23. However, the government recently said it would postpone said deposition that was scheduled for this month.
Armstrong confessed to doping last year during a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey. However, he avoided giving specific details during the interview. And, he has since been able to derail any attempts on the part of attorneys to answer questions under oath.
Indeed, his attorneys have fought vigorously to shield him from any efforts to place him under oath, citing that the events in question happened more than nine years ago, and therefore, could prove to be faulty – possibly leading to inconsistent testimony that could weaken his defense with two fraud cases pending against him.
In 2004, Armstrong sued SCA Promotions, claiming breach of contract after the company refused to pay his bonus for winning the Tour de France. The company withheld the payment because it suspected he cheated to win the race, leading to his deposition with Tillotson in 2005.
During the 2005 testimony, Armstrong said he "never" took performance-enhancing drugs. "How many times do I have to say it?" Armstrong asked Tillotson then. He also testified, "I race the bike straight up fair and square."
That false testimony helped Armstrong win a $7.5 million settlement from the company in 2006. The settlement agreement stipulated that the case could not be reopened, a point his attorneys have stressed in trying to block the current case from proceeding.
Tillotson previously said Armstrong’s false testimony is too old for him to face perjury charges under the statute of limitations. But he said SCA Promotions wants Armstrong sanctioned for his lies by the same arbitration panel that handled the previous case.
"Our position is simple," Tillotson told the media last month. "No one should be able to relentlessly perjure themselves and get away with it."
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