In the wake of this week’s settlement between Greg LeMond and Trek, Cyclingnews has received verification that the triple Tour de France winner did not have to sign any agreement limiting his ability to talk about doping concerns in professional cycling.
“Absolutely not,” said LeMond’s lawyer Jamie DiBoise, when asked if the settlement terms prevented him from speaking about Lance Armstrong or other riders. “I expect Greg will have comments once the French finish their investigation of Astana.”
Depending on the outcome of that enquiry, the statement raises the possibility of further friction between the multiple Tour de France winners. The 2008 Astana team of Armstrong and eventual Tour winner Alberto Contador is currently under investigation after infusion kits and syringes were found in the team’s medical waste. No date has been set for the conclusion of that process.
What was a once-harmonious business relationship between LeMond and Trek turned rocky after he questioned Armstrong’s association with controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari back in 2001. Armstrong was its top athlete and while the company has since said that LeMond was not precluded from commenting in general terms about doping in cycling, it claimed his comments about Armstrong were harmful to the Trek and LeMond brands.
According to DiBoise, this week’s agreement followed intensive efforts by the two sides to work out a deal. Starting on January 22nd and using a private mediator, the legal teams spent eight days working on reaching a mutually acceptable conclusion.
“A dialogue was established, taking into account the Judge's summary judgment order, the questions the judge asked at the SJ [summary judgement] hearing and each side’s realistic view at what was most likely to happen at trial,” he explained. “From that process a settlement was structured.”
Only partial terms of the agreement have been disclosed; DiBoise confirmed reports that Trek will make two payments of $100,000 to 1in4.org, a non-profit organisation which has the goal of helping those who have been sexually abused in childhood.
LeMond became a founding board member in September 2007, several months after disclosing during Floyd Landis’ CAS doping hearing that he had once been abused.
However DiBoise said that he could not comment on questions relating to any personal settlement between Trek and LeMond, or indeed on who would pay the legal costs. “I can’t comment, other than [stating] Greg is very pleased with the resolution of this dispute,” he said, drawing attention to quote released by Trek’s president John Burke in the settlement press release. Praising in tone, it marked an about-turn when compared to previous public comments.
While Armstrong was not directly involved in the legal dispute between LeMond and Trek, efforts were being made to include doping allegations against him in the trial, which was scheduled to take place in March. The contention of LeMond’s legal team was that the questions raised by various individuals from the world of sport were relevant to the whole issue, while Trek sought to have the case considered on narrower grounds.
“It would be fair to say that Trek took steps to try to prevent inquiries into Lance Armstrong’s actions at trial,” said DiBoise.
LeMond has been advised by his counsel to take several weeks rest after what has been a lengthy, drawn out legal process. He has not commented on the settlement, and is thought unlikely to do so in the immediate future. Calls to contact Trek’s legal representatives for comment went unanswered.