By Jim Vertuno
AUSTIN, Texas — Lance Armstrong on Wednesday was given more time to think about whether he wants to cooperate with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. Separately, he learned that he’s about to be sued.
USADA, the agency that investigated the cyclist’s performance-enhancing drug use and banned him for life from sports, has given him an extra two weeks to decide if he’ll speak with investigators under oath. The agency has said cooperating in its cleanup effort is the only path to Armstrong getting his ban reduced. The agency extended its original Wednesday deadline to Feb. 20.
Earlier in the day, SCA Promotions in Dallas said it will sue Armstrong on Thursday to recover more than $12 million it paid him in bonuses for winning the Tour de France seven times.
SCA Promotions tried to withhold the bonuses in 2005 amid doping allegations against the cyclist. The company wants its money back, plus fees and interest, now that Armstrong has admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs and has been stripped of those victories.
Armstrong testified under oath in 2005 that he didn’t use steroids, other drugs or blood doping methods to win. A spokesman for SCA said the lawsuit will be filed in Dallas.
“Mr. Armstrong’s legal team and representatives claimed repeatedly that SCA would only be entitled to repayment if Mr. Armstrong was stripped of his titles, and since that has now come to pass, we intend to hold them to those statements,” the company said.
Armstrong attorney Tim Herman did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment.
Also on Wednesday, the federal Food and Drug Administration said it is not investigating Armstrong. FDA spokeswoman Sarah Clark-Lynn made the statement following stories by ABC News and USA Today Sports.
Quoting an unidentified person that it called a “high-level source,” ABC said that federal agents are actively investigating Armstrong for obstruction, witness tampering and intimidation. On Wednesday, USA Today Sports reported that the FDA “is investigating the Lance Armstrong case.”
The news reports came after a statement by U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte, whose office conducted a criminal investigation of Armstrong, closing the probe a year ago without bringing any charges. Armstrong subsequently admitted to the drug use he long denied after USADA went ahead with its own investigation.
Birotte said that “we’ve been well-aware of the statements that have been made by Mr. Armstrong and other media reports. That has not changed my view at this time. Obviously, we’ll consider, we’ll continue to look at the situation, but that hasn’t changed our view as I stand here today.”