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Insurer can sue Lance Armstrong

A Texas state court has thrown out Lance Armstrong's claim that a prize insurer's $3mn fraud suit against him was time-barred.

Acceptance Insurance sued Armstrong in February after the cyclist finally admitted that he took banned performance-boosting drugs.

Armstrong's lawyers argued that the suit should have been filed on "discovery" in September, when the US Anti-Doping Authority produced evidence that Armstrong had concealed a doping scheme on a grand scale.

But Travis county district judge Darlene Byrne refused to dismiss the suit, ruling that the sports prize insurer had made its claims in a timely manner.

Acceptance, a Nebraska-based insurer, paid a total of $3mn in bonuses every time the cyclist won a Tour de France contest between 1999 and 2001.

After it was revealed he had cheated in the three races, Acceptance sued the cyclist for fraud and unjust enrichment, claiming that he had made a series of false statements that voided the policy.

The insurer claimed for $3mn plus interest and lawyers' fees.

Armstrong submitted three counter-arguments. He said Acceptance had plenty of opportunities to discover his doping habits after 2001, adding that media reports had accused him of cheating in 2000 and that these claims were frequently repeated.

He said Acceptance had only provided cover for Tailwind, a sports company that owned his cycling team, and claimed that he bore no liability.

Lastly, he urged Judge Byrne to throw out unjust enrichment claims, and argued that he had no duty to pay the prize money back.

The insurer argued that it could not possibly have discovered Armstrong's doping before September last year, as Armstrong had repeatedly denied press allegations.

The cyclist sued the British journalist David Walsh in 2004 for writing LA Confidential, a book (only published in French) that contained systematic evidence of Armstrong's doping.

At the time, Armstrong said he "never" broke the race rules and would "go to the grave" knowing he was clean.

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