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Lance Armstrong Settles With News Corp's Sunday Times

A "mutually acceptable" agreement resolves a dispute over whether Armstrong lied during a libel lawsuit nearly a decade ago.

Lance Armstrong World Cancer Congress - P 2012
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Lance Armstrong, the cyclist who was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles before finally admitting he had doped, has settled a lawsuit brought by London's Sunday Times, part of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

The paper sued Armstrong late last year for more than $1.6 million as part of an effort to recover money derived from a previous settlement. Armstrong had once sued the Times for reprinting claims from a book that Armstrong had taken performance-enhancing drugs. In 2006, the paper paid Armstrong about $485,000 to withdraw his libel lawsuit.

In the Times lawsuit filed in a U.K. court last year, Armstrong was accused of making deliberately false representations during the litigation on the path toward taking money from the paper.

On Sunday, the newspaper announced it had "reached a mutually acceptable final resolution" and that it was "entirely happy with the agreed settlement, the terms of which remain confidential."

This marks the end of one of several fights that Armstrong finds himself confronting after coming clean in an interview with Oprah Winfrey this past January.

The biggest case remains the federal whistleblower lawsuit launched by fellow cyclist Floyd Landis, which has prompted the United States government to intervene in an attempt to recover tens of millions of dollars in sponsorship money given to the Postal Service Cycling Team, which once counted Armstrong as a leader.

Last month, Armstrong's attorneys blasted the lawsuit as coming way too late to survive the statute of limitations and even suggested that the government was aware of the misdeeds -- or at least, news reports about it -- and chose to derive the benefit anyway of a relationship with Armstrong that earned substantial television coverage.

"Although the government now pretends to be aggrieved by these allegations, its actions at the time are far more telling," reads a motion to dismiss filed by Armstrong's legal team. "Did it immediately fire the Postal Service Team? Did it suspend the team pending an investigation? Did it refer the matter to its phalanx of lawyers and investigators at the Department of Justice for review? It did not. Rather than exercise its right to terminate the sponsorship agreement, it instead renewed its contract to sponsor the team. The rationale behind the government’s decision is obvious. Armstrong had recently won the 2000 Tour de France. The government wanted a winner and all the publicity, exposure and acclaim that goes along with being his sponsor. It got exactly what it bargained for."

A judge has yet to rule on the motion.

E-mail: Eriq.Gardner@THR.com
Twitter: @eriqgardner