Trek and LeMond at loggerheads

Lance Armstrong and Trek CEO John Burke launch the company's

Lance Armstrong and Trek CEO John Burke launch the company's (Image credit: James Huang)

Court interpretations will rule on who discredited whom

One of cycling's more uncomfortable business relationships, that of Greg LeMond and the Trek Bicycle Corporation, has seemingly been irreparably damaged following the announcement by Trek that it is seeking to immediately sever its relationship with the three-time winner of the Tour de France.

Since 1995, Trek has licensed the 'LeMond' brand and produced a range of bicycles carrying the name. The brand enjoyed spectacular growth in its early years and was always proudly promoted as a key Trek brand. However, at a staff meeting on April 8, 2008, Trek CEO John Burke announced that Trek had filed a suit in the Federal Court in Madison, Wisconsin, alleging breach of contract by LeMond.

The Trek action is a response to a summons that was issued to Trek HQ on March 20, 2008, by LeMond's law firm, in the State of Minnesota. LeMond is asking for that court to rule that his company is not in breach of its agreement with Trek, and in fact, Trek is in breach of its agreement. LeMond is also seeking an injunction requiring Trek to uphold the licensing agreement, and that LeMond is seeking damages from Trek for the alleged breach of contract.

Interestingly, LeMond did not make this summons publicly available - that has been done by Trek on its own website.

The LeMond summons includes allegations that Trek didn't market and support his brand of bicycles within the terms outlined in their licensing agreement.

The Armstrong connection

Further, the summons references Trek's reactions to LeMond's public statements about alleged doping practices in cycling in general, as well as well as his comments about Lance Armstrong's relationship with the disgraced Italian sports doctor Michele Ferrari and further, how Trek's strong association with and support of Armstrong directly affected LeMond's relationship with Trek.

LeMond believes his public anti-doping statements helped to improve cycling's reputation and did not harm Trek. However, the company counters; "Greg LeMond has done and said things that have damaged the LeMond brand and the Trek brand as a whole," Burke said.

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