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Date Posted: 06:42:04 09/16/04 Thu
Author: VeloMonkey
Subject: Armstrong Sues For Tour Win Bonus

By TERRY MAXON / The Dallas Morning News

A Dallas-based insurance company is balking at paying cyclist Lance Armstrong a $5 million bonus for winning the Tour de France, saying it wants to look into allegations that Armstrong used illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

SCA Promotions Inc. said it has paid the $5 million into a custodial account until it determines whether "new allegations" made against Armstrong are true. "We're just asking the questions," SCA attorney John Bandy said Wednesday.

Armstrong and Tailwind Sports Inc. filed a lawsuit in Dallas County state district court Tuesday seeking to make SCA pay up. As required in its contract with SCA, they asked to send the claim to arbitration, and Bandy said SCA supports that move.

Tailwind owns the U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team and has Armstrong as its leading member. In 2001, it promised Armstrong a series of bonuses based on the number of consecutive Tour victories.

Before the 2001 Tour de France, Tailwind paid SCA a $420,000 insurance premium to pay the bonuses if Armstrong earned them.

SCA paid a $1.5 million bonus in 2002 after Armstrong won his fourth Tour, and another $3 million after he won again in in 2003. But SCA withheld the $5 million bonus Armstrong was to receive after winning a sixth straight Tour this summer.

Bandy said SCA learned of allegations in a newly published book, L.A. Confidential: The Secrets of Lance Armstrong, that quoted a former team employee saying Armstrong had used a banned blood booster and asked her to dispose of bags of syringes.

"We believe the contract says we have to pay only if the event of a valid claim," Mr. Bandy said.

In its suit, the plaintiffs said SCA has asked Armstrong and Tailwind to provide all of Armstrong's medical records and other records. Bandy said SCA will ask the arbitrator to order those records handed over.

The plaintiffs said SCA didn't have the right to question his Tour victories, which were upheld by cycling authorities.

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