Lance Armstrong’s Admission Creates Legal Issues

Lance ArmstrongLance Armstrong’s admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs (“PEDs”) potentially exposes him to civil and criminal liability.  Any of Armstrong’s sponsors, including the US Postal Service, could seek the repayment of any endorsement money paid to the cyclist.  Those who were sued by Armstrong for slander and/or libel could certainly pursue legal action, as those cases were based on the inaccurate premise that Armstrong did not use PEDs.  In addition, those that were bullied by Armstrong to keep quiet regarding his doping could seek legal relief.  Perhaps most troublesome for Armstrong is the specter that the federal government could pursue criminal charges.

I discussed the situation with a sports law professor yesterday and we agreed that we’d advise Armstrong to keep quiet.  Jack Ford, legal analyst for CBS News, had a similar take:

“Public relations people probably saying, ‘Look, you need to take control of the story, move forward, we’re a forgiving nation. If you want to be able to do things and resurrect your image, you have to apologize and get it out there.’ I have to believe his lawyers were saying, you know, ‘That’s a terrible idea because, legally, you now are going to be exposing yourself to all sorts of civil suits, enormous amounts of money, and even the possibility of the resurrection of a criminal investigation.”

Although Roger Clemens never admitted using PEDs, Clemens appeared to prioritize public relations over the possibility of legal entanglements.  Somewhat similarly, Armstrong appears to have decided to try to win the public relations battle no matter the legal consequences.

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