Lawsuit to rumble on in Italy
By Tim Maloney, European Editor
A Paris court has absolved Lance Armstrong of defamation charges brought by Italian racer Filippo Simeoni over Armstrong's comments in an interview with Le Monde on April 17, 2003. Armstrong called Simeoni a liar in the interview when he described the Italian's testimony against the seven time Tour winner's friend and training adviser, Dr. Michele Ferrari. A Bologna, Italy court found Ferrari guilty of sporting fraud and abuse of prescribing medicine, with Simeoni providing the key testimony against Ferrari. Armstrong's French attorneys alleged in their defamation defense that Simeoni had received preferential treatment from the court for his own guilty sentence on EPO doping charges in exchange for his testimony against Ferrari.
The judge in the Paris civil court decided not to go forward with Simeoni's case, saying Monday that the statute of limitations had already expired in the case against Armstrong and that Simeoni's lawyers had misinterpreted French law. Armstrong and Simeoni will now square off March 7 in a court in Latina, Italy on other defamation charges related to Armstrong pursuing the Italian during a stage of the '04 Tour de France and allegedly threatening Simeoni for testifying about doping in a trial of Ferrari.