"I thought my big interview was a few years ago," says Tillotson, recalling the deposition of Armstrong in the SCA arbitration. "But I guess Oprah got different answers."
In late December, The Sunday Times, a British newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, filed suit against Armstrong in London seeking to recoup $1.5 million from a libel settlement it agreed to several years ago for referring in an article to a controversial 2004 book written by its top sportswriter David Walsh about Armstrong's alleged doping practices. (The now vindicated Walsh announced Friday that Armstrong's public apology didn't go far enough because he refused to implicate others.)
Armstrong also faces a qui tam or whistle-blower action filed by former teammate Floyd Landis in 2010. The suit, which remains under seal, accuses Armstrong and other defendants of defrauding the U.S. government, of which the USPS is an independent agency, by denying his use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Also named in Landis's whistle-blower suit is Thomas Weisel, a Silicon Valley financier who helped fund a company called Tailwind Sports, which managed Armstrong's yellow-shirted USPS team during its heyday, and who also once managed the money for the head of pro cycling's world governing body, according to a report this week by The Wall Street Journal. (Tailwind also joined Armstrong in the suit against SCA, with W&C's Levinstein and Baron & Budd's Lisa Blue also advising the claimants, according to transcripts of the proceedings.)
Weisel spoke out for the first time Thursday in an interview with The New York Times, in which he provided a detailed statement claiming not to have known anything about doping by Armstrong or his USPS teammates. Sullivan & Cromwell litigation partner Robert Sacks, the managing partner of the firm's Los Angeles office, is representing Weisel. Sacks declined to comment further behind Weisel's public statement on the matter.
Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati litigation partner Leo Cunningham represented Landis in August when the former cyclist agreed to pay nearly $500,000 in restitution as a part of a deferred prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in San Diego on charges that he defrauded donors to his legal defense fund. Cunningham says hes not representing Landis in the qui tam action. (Wilson Sonsini previously advised another Armstrong nemesisformer Tour de France winner Greg LeMondin an unrelated litigation battle with Armstrong, who was also criticized by LeMond's wife this week.)
Another lawyer for Landis, San Francisco solo practitioner Paul Scott, declined to comment when contacted by The Am Law Daily on Friday.
Landis's whistle-blower action reportedly seeks $30 million from Armstrongor roughly the amount paid by the USPS to sponsor the team. Landis, who is seeking about a quarter of that amount, will get a significant boost should the Justice Department join his case. Any judgment could also be trebled, potentially putting Armstrong on the hook for a sum which, coupled with the loss of key sponsorships and a damaged brand, could put him in dire financial straits.
"It's much harder these days to shed personal debts in bankruptcy," says Manderson, the attorney for Armstrong's ex-teammate Hamilton. "Any bankruptcy filing would result in an automatic stay, but there would still have to be a debt restructuring that he couldn't just walk away from."
Armstrong has already bankrupted himself when it comes to being a voice of authority in the sport of pro cycling, whose reputation has suffered greatly in recent years due to allegations of rampant doping by its participants. At least one lawyer with cycling ties was mum about what Armstrong's admission might mean for the sport itself.