Nike claimed to have 'paid $500,000 to cover up failed drugs test from Armstrong'
16:20 GMT, 16 October 2012
Nike are alleged to have paid $500,000 for a failed drugs test from Lance Armstrong to be covered up.
The astonishing claims against the sportswear giant have emerged from a testimony by Kathy Lemond from back in 2006.
It comes as the backlash against Nike escalates while they continue to refuse to cut their ties with shamed American Armstrong.
Suspicion: Lance Armstrong is checked up back in the 2003 Tour de France
Lemond, the wife of American cyclist Greg Lemond, claimed under oath in 2006 that Nike helped pay former UCI president Hein Verbruggen $500,000 to cover up a positive drug test from Armstrong.
It is claimed the cash was paid to cover up a positive test in 1999 for corticosteroids, which Armstrong had used to treat saddle sores.
It relates to the case where Armstrong and Tailwind Sports – the company in charge of his cycling team – filed a lawsuit against SCA, a Dallas firm that indemnifies sponsors who offer prizes based on athletic achievements.
SCA refused to pay Armstrong a $5million bonus that Tailwind had promised the cyclist for winning the 2004 Tour de France after allegations of doping reported in the book 'LA Confidential – the Secrets of Lance Armstrong' by journalists David Walsh and Pierre Ballester.
During a 2006 deposition over the suit, Lemond testified that Julian Devries, who worked as a mechanic for Armstrong’s team, told her that Nike and Thom Weisel, a banker who sponsored Armstrong’s team, paid $500,000 into a Swiss bank account belonging to Verbruggen.
Big backers: Nike have long supported Armstrong – on the road and off it
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Lemond said she stood by her testimony. She said: 'I’m sure Julian was telling the truth.'
Armstrong’s lawyer Mark Fabiani hit back, saying: 'We have absolutely no idea what Mrs Lemond, a long-time Lance-hater, was talking about when she gave her deposition. And to this day we have no idea what she was talking about.'
Armstrong was last week exposed as a liar, bully and cheat in the United States Anti-Doping Agency's report into his alleged doping in the US Postal team.
Despite the damning evidence against Armstrong, Nike continue to back their man – reissuing the same statement from August.
It read: 'We are saddened that Lance Armstrong may no longer be able to participate in certain competitions and his titles appear to be impacted.
Claims: Kathy Lemond pictured alongside husband Greg
'Lance has stated his innocence and has been unwavering on this position. Nike plans to continue to support Lance and the Lance Armstrong Foundation, a foundation that Lance created to serve cancer survivors.'
Meanwhile, Paul Willerton, who rode alongside Armstrong for US Postal during two world championship road races, claimed a group of athletes and cycling fans will protest at the Nike headquarters in Oregon on Tuesday.
'We're a group of athletes who don't stand for organised crime in sports,' Willerton told Cyclingnews.
'We don't allow bullying and intimidation inside the cycling industry or any industry for that matter. These are fundamental human rights issues.
'So to have a company like Nike standing there and saying they publicly support that, I can't stand for it myself, and I know I'm not alone in that.'