April 24 - An appeals court in Texas has rejected Lance Armstrong's attempts to block an arbitration panel from reviewing $12 million (£7.1 million/€8.7 million) of bonus payments being claimed back by SCA Promotions following the disgraced cyclist's outing as a drugs cheat in January last year.
The Dallas-based Fifth Court of Appeals had temporarily halted the case at Armstrong's request in March, but today's decision will allow for the arbitration panel to go ahead with its case, although Texas state law will allow Armstrong to appeal any final judgement if the panel rules against him.
Insurance company SCA Promotions is also seeking to have the former cyclist punished for perjury and fraud in a long-running battle that dates back nearly 10 years.
In late 2004, Armstrong sued SCA Promotions after the firm withheld a bonus payment over suspicions that he was doping to win races.
The case was brought before an arbitration panel, and following Armstrong's testimony - which has subsequently been found to be completely false - SCA Promotions was forced to pay the bonuses in 2006.
However, following the former seven-time Tour de France winner's admission on the Oprah Winfrey Network early last year that he had used drugs during all seven of his Tour de France wins between 1999 and 2005, SCA Promotions want the arbitration panel to reopen the case and recoup the bonus money they paid to him.
Armstrong's attorneys insist state law does not allow SCA to reopen the original settlement, which included a clause that said "no party may challenge, appeal or attempt to set aside" the payment and that it was "fully and forever binding".
But following Armstrong's doping admission and SCA's claims that it reached the settlement only because of Armstrong's fraudulent testimony, the arbitration panel agreed to consider the company's case for repayment.
"Mr Armstrong engaged in rampant perjury and committed outrageous acts of witness intimidation in his lawsuit with SCA," said the firm's attorney, Jeffrey Tillotson.
"With this opinion from the Court of Appeals, SCA will now proceed to have Mr Armstrong punished for such conduct."
This latest case comes in a series of lawsuits against Armstrong since he was exposed as a drugs cheat.
He settled a similar case with Nebraska-based Acceptance Insurance last November, who were seeking to recoup more than $3 million (£2 million/€2.5 million) in bonus payments.
In August, he and The Sunday Times in London reached a "mutually acceptable final resolution" after they had launched a £1 million ($1.6 million/€1.1 million) legal action against him.
In 2006, the newspaper had been forced to pay Armstrong £300,000 ($467,000/€350,000) to settle a libel case he had brought against them after they accused him of using banned performance-enhancing drugs.
Meanwhile, the Texan is facing a federal whistleblower lawsuit brought by the United States Government for its sponsorship of the US Postal Service team, which was led by Armstrong and could see potential penalties of more than $100 million (£62 million/€74 million).
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