Sun Times reviews Armstrong 'liar and cheat' libel payout - Press Gazette

Sun Times reviews Armstrong 'liar and cheat' libel payout

The Sunday Times has revealed that the terms of its costly 2004 legal settlement with Lance Armstrong are likely to be reviewed in the wake of news the cyclist will not contest doping charges against him.

On Friday Armtrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France victories and given a lifetime ban after he decided not to fight the US Anti-Doping Agency case against him.

The Sunday Times was one of the few papers to risk Armstrong's legal might and raise questions about his remarkable string of Tour de France victories from an early stage.

In 1999 when Armstrong won his first Tour de France after recovering from cancer three years earlier, Sunday Times journalist David Walsh wrote: "For too long, sportswriting has been unrestrained cheerleading, suspending legitimate doubts and settling for stories of sporting heroism."

After a two-year investigation, Walsh revealed in the Sunday Times in 2001 that Armstrong was working with the controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari. Walsh also reported allegations from Armstrong's masseuse Emma O'Reilly stating that he had doped.

Under the headline Champ of Cheat? The Sunday Times asked in 2001 why a clean rider would work with a dirty doctor.

Armstrong sued the Sunday Times over an article headlined LA Confidential which it published in June 2004 which carried allegations from a book by Walsh which was published in France.

The legal action prompted extensive pre-trial legal wrangling between Armstrong's lawyers Schillings and the Sunday Times – including a row over whether an initial hearing to decide the meaning of the article should be heard by a judge or a jury which went all the way to the Court of Appeal.

In July 2006, the High Court ruled that the meaning of the article was that Armstrong was a "fraud, a cheat and a liar".

Following that ruling, The Sunday Times opted to settle the case, saying: "it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance enhancing drugs" and that it "sincerely apologised for any such impression".

The Sunday Times reported this week: "Armstrong sued this paper in 2004. After a protracted and costly legal battle, The Sunday Times and Armstrong reached an out-of-court settlement. Its terms are likely to be reviewed in the light of the US anti-doping agency's decision."