Armstrong confession leaves him in legal danger

Armstrong confession leaves him in legal danger

Fallen cycling legend Lance Armstrong took a major legal risk in confessing to drug use in a television interview and has exposed himself to significant litigation, lawyers have warned.

The seven-time Tour de France champion already faced several potential lawsuits from former teammates and sponsors who claim they were hurt by his doping and by his ferocious but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to cover it up.

Yet by appearing with talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and bluntly admitting to taking a cocktail of banned substances over a decade and a half while bullying those around him, he may have put more than his reputation at risk.

"I think it's going to be a big judgment against him. I think he's going to have a gigantic money judgment," said Peter Keane, a law professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco.

Armstrong's admission of guilt could force him to pay substantial out of court settlements to many of his detractors, and may encourage US authorities to add their weight to one of the most serious cases against him.

Meanwhile, his aggressive demeanor and perceived lack of contrition in the interview could turn judges and jurors against him if cases come to court, and will increase the determination of those seeking to sue him.

"He did a terrible job," said Jordan Kobritz, a former lawyer and head of sports at SUNY Cortland university, reflecting the view of many sports fans and professionals reacting on social networks and in television studios.

"I didn't think he was sincere, contrite, forthright or remorseful," he told AFP after the first part of the interview was broadcast late Thursday.

"As a former attorney, I think his attorneys probably weren't in favor of what he did, because of the many potential legal consequences. I think they were right."

Kobritz said Armstrong missed an opportunity to make a genuine apology to two women, former team masseuse Emma O'Reilly and a teammate's wife Betsy Andreu, whom he had insulted when they attempted to reveal his doping.

Armstrong jumped out of the peloton and closed the gap, was followed by the T-Mobile team of rival Jan Ullrich, thus giving the breakaway no chance.
After Armstrong refused to drop back, Simeoni was ordered to leave the breakaway group.

When he did, with Armstrong in tow, the Italian was spat on and verbally abused by several leading riders including Filippo Pozzato, a fellow-Italian who recently served a ban for consulting with Ferrari.

On the final stage, usually held at a slow pace as the race winner (in this case Armstrong) celebrates his win, Simeoni was attacked repeatedly but was reeled in again and again. And spat on, again.

Because Simeoni was a witness against Ferrari, the Italian authorities threatened to charge Armstrong with intimidation. But eventually, in April 2006, the defamation charges were dropped.

Simeoni was always considered something of a maverick and his career suffered as a result.

In a recent interview he claimed bigger teams did not want to employ him. "My earnings definitely suffered, and I probably gave up two years earlier than I otherwise would have done. I lost my peak years," he said.
Now the the owner of two coffee shops near Rome, Simeoni feels Armstrong's confession has simply not gone far enough.

"Honestly, Armstrong's words leave me feeling indifferent and in no way made up for all the offences, victimisation and humiliation I suffered," he added.

"His admission was self-serving. He has to give a more complete confession in a way that will help cycling move on in a more positive direction."

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