Apparently Lance Armstrong just admitted to having used performance enhancing drugs during his Tour de France victories. I am disappointed; and candidly very sad. I have admired and followed Armstrong’s career closely. My father and I were in Paris, and watched him cross the finish line for his 7th and final Tour victory. I reached out and touched his bike. Today, my 10-year old son Nory has a signed poster of Lance above his bed. It was given to us by my friend Chris Carmichael who was Armstrong’s personal coach. Another poster of Armstrong hangs in my Coral Gables law office. It shows Armstrong climbing Mount Ventoux.
I am a fan, father and Miami bicycle accident lawyer. I am also a former cyclist who raced in the United States and Europe. Here is an old picture of me racing clean.
I have diffuiclty understanding Lance’s sudden confession. After spending most of my life cross-examining defendant doctors, expert witnesses and corporate representatives I know that some lie more convincingly than I can tell the truth. I also understand how a doctor lies to save his medical license. I have seen hospital administrators, insurance adjusters and grocery store managers lie countless times to deprive justice to the injured.
I have also attended thousands of clients’ depositions, who have against my advice, “misstated the truth.” We spend a lot of money doing background investigations on potential client’s before we agree to accept a case. We do this to prevent a legitimately injured client from ruining their own case by trying to hide a prior accident or injury.
In Florida, when a personal injury claimant testifies falsely under oath their entire claim can be case dismissed with prejudice as a sanction. It is not uncommon for a trial judge to order an untruthful plaintiff to pay the attorney’s fees and costs to the opposing party.
There are criminal ramifications as well. Florida’s Perjury Statute §837 defines a false statement as one that is made by someone who does not believe it to be true. Violating this statute would subject Lance to a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
Why after all these years has Lance has decided to come clean? Purportedly he wants to continue to compete in triathlons and other events that have banned him. Can his competitive drive outweigh potential financial loss and criminal exposure? Civilly, I believe he is subject to multiple law suits for fraud, insurance fraud, breach of contract and slander.
I imagine, like many of Florida’s uninsured medical doctors, Lance has a bullet proof asset protection plan that will shield him from creditors. Or perhaps he will seek bankruptcy protection? He also may have made so much money that he can work out a settlement and pay back plan. I recently blogged about this in the Huffington Post “Patients, Beware When Doctors Go Bare” explaining how doctors commonly use these techniques to avoid paying medical malpractice judgements in Florida.
I cannot imagine how much time and money has been spent chasing and investigating Lance over the last ten years. At each juncture, Lance would not only deny the accusation, but often sue the accuser or derail their own professional aspirations. Yet somehow, he has chosen this inexplicable moment in time to confess.
Can Lance still be a hero and a role model if by confessing he encourages others who have lied and cheated in sports and other aspects of their lives to do the same? Or is his legacy forever tarnished and branded as a fraud. Only time will tell. For now, his poster remains on Nory’s wall.