By Gregor Brown
Lance Armstrong saved himself testifying at the last minute and settled a $3m lawsuit with Acceptance Insurance. The former American cyclist was scheduled to appear in court tomorrow about his drug use en route to seven Tour de France wins.
According to the Associated Press news agency, attorneys for both Armstrong and the Nebraska-based insurance company said that the case was "resolved to the mutual satisfaction of the parties." They did not provide the settlement details.
Similar to SCA Promotions, Acceptance provided a policy that paid bonuses if Armstrong won the 1999, 2000 and 2001 editions of the Tour. It paid out, but earlier this year sued Armstrong for $3m after US investigators found that he cheated throughout his career and banned him for life.
With the settlement, however, Armstrong once again avoided testimony. Betsy Andreu, long-time critic and wife of Armstrong's team-mate Frankie Andreu, said that it was just what he wanted.
"This gets him out of doing what he fears the most, which is going under oath," Betsy Andreu told the AP. "He has never answered the questions in depth. He's always skirted."
Acceptance wanted to know details about Armstrong's doping, including who paid, who determined the doses and who administered them. It also wanted information on Armstrong's circle of friends, family and team-mates that knew of his use. According to USA Today, Armstrong did provide written responses to questions in September. Those were not published as part of the settlement, according to the newspaper.
Mark Kincaid, a lawyer for Acceptance, wrote recently in a court filing that Armstrong's team avoided testimony at all costs. His lawyers used a "lengthy string of delays, unanswered calls, unheeded requests, and general foot-dragging" to avoid scheduling his hearing.
Armstrong also refused to testify in the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) case that led to his lifetime ban. He only spoke for the first time of his drug use in January, but that was in a TV interview with Oprah Winfrey. He may yet get his chance to testify.
UCI president Brian Cookson said that he wants Armstrong to talk as part of an inquiry into cycling's chequered past. He encouraged him to work with the US agency if he ever wants to have the possibility of reducing his ban.
He still also has SCA Promotions chasing him in its $12m lawsuit and the US government in a false-claims case that could see fines up to $95m.
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