Lance Armstrong was paid $1.5million by the South Australian government to appear at the Tour Down Under for his 2009 comeback, it has been revealed.
The amount Armstrong was paid in taxpayer money has now been made public after a 10-year agreement to keep it secret expired.
Armstrong returned to racing at the 2009 Tour Down under after a three-season absence from the professional peloton, following his 2005 retirement.
Details of the 47-year-old’s payment, around £800,000, has been revealed by the Sunday Mail in Australia.
The deal did not include a clause about doping, according to reports, which means Armstrong did not have to repay the money when he finally admitted taking performance enhancing drugs.
State treasurer Rob Lucas said: “By anyone’s standards that’s an astonishing amount of money to pay one man for a six-day race, not to mention the extra sweeteners on the side.”
The agreement included first-class flights for two people, hotel accommodation and meals, according to Lucas.
He added that the contract required him to race in the Down Under Classic event, but did not obligate him to ride the TDU.
Armstrong competed in the Tour Down Under on three occasions between 2009 and 2011, first with Astana and then with Radioshack, never finishing higher than 24th overall in the event.
Then, 18 months after his final appearance at the Tour Down Under, Armstrong admitted doping for much of his professional cycling career (although claiming that he was clean while riding at the Tour Down Under), and was given a lifetime ban from the sport.
In January 2018, race director Mike Turtur said the Tour Down Under continues to benefit from the Armstrong’s appearances in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Turtur said: “His presence, the returned benefits to the race and to this state and to awareness around cancer, money cannot buy.
“The smallest increase that we saw was 100 per cent, it was staggering, and we are still benefiting from that legacy.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Leon Bignell, Australia’s Minister for Tourism and Minister for Sport, who said that Armstrong’s participation elevated the Tour Down Under’s profile to new levels, helping to reach people who would otherwise have not been interested in the event.
“Lance Armstrong’s appearance at the Santos Tour Down Under came at a time when he was considered the greatest cyclist in the world,” Bignell said.
“He brought the eyes of the world with him to South Australia when he rode in the Tour Down Under, taking the race to a whole new level. The state government has continued to leverage this exposure, ensuring crowd numbers continued to climb even after Lance’s final appearance."
Details of payments for his 2010 and 2011 appearances will be revealed when 10 years passes.
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