Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong could lose millions of dollars in lawsuits filed by organizations seeking civil damages once the former Tour de France champion publicly confesses to doping.
On Monday evening Armstrong recorded an interview with Oprah Winfrey in which he reportedly confessed to having used performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. The interview airs on her OWN network on Thursday evening. Although a confession might not lead to criminal charges, Armstrong risks the loss of prize money and other fallout from sponsors and events.
"At the end of the day, I would be surprised if the damages — total amount — aren’t in the tens of millions of dollars," Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago-based lawyer who has represented athletes in similar cases, told NBC News
As the investigation draws more attention from federal officials, losses in the millions could be seen as a softer punishment than jail time. And yet it would be quite a hit to Armstrong's fortune, currently estimated at around $100 million.
Investigators closed a case against Armstrong in February 2011, after 20 months of digging for answers. The Unites States Anti-Doping Agency ruled Armstrong was at the center of "the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program the sport has ever seen."
CBS News reported on Tuesday that Armstrong offered $5 million to the federal government to compensate for the fraud he allegedly committed against the U.S. Postal Service. The USPS paid Armstrong's cycling team $30 million in sponsorship from 1999 to 2004. The contract covering the USPS team banned doping.
Winfrey appeared on "CBS This Morning" on Tuesday to promote the Armstrong interview.
"I would say he did not come clean in the manner that I expected," Winfrey told the news program. "It was surprising to me. I would say that for myself, my team, all of us in the room, we were mesmerized and riveted by some of his answers."
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