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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 20:50 GMT 21:50 UK
Armstrong settles paper libel row
Lance Armstrong
Armstrong retired in 2005 after his seventh Tour de France win
Tour de France legend Lance Armstrong has settled his libel case against the Sunday Times over doping allegations.

The American sued the paper over a June 2004 article referring to a book published in France - LA Confidential, The Secrets of Lance Armstrong.

The article reprinted claims that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs.

The settlement came after Armstrong, who has always denied such claims, won an important pre-trial ruling on the defamatory meaning of the article.

Mr Justice Gray ruled in favour of the seven-time Tour winner, saying the article "meant accusation of guilt and not simply reasonable grounds to suspect".

He said that the ordinary, reasonable reader would have understood the article as a whole to mean that Armstrong had taken drugs to enhance his performance in cycling competitions.

The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance enhancing drugs

Joint statement from Sunday Times and Lance Armstrong
If that was the meaning, he added, it appeared to him inevitably to follow that Armstrong's conduct in so doing was fraudulent and amounted to cheating and that his denials that he had done so were lies.

The judge rejected argument for the newspaper that the words complained about conveyed no more than the existence of reasonable grounds to suspect.

Armstrong, who has consistently denied all doping allegations, said in a statement that he was "extremely happy" with the court's decision.

"This judgment is the latest in a series of consistent rulings in our favour," he said

"I always said that the article falsely alleged that I was guilty of doping. The article was based on untrue allegations which are without substance contained in a book published only in France."

In a joint statement concluding the action, Armstrong and the newspaper said: "The Sunday Times and Mr Armstrong are pleased to announce that they have settled their legal disputes.

"The Sunday Times has confirmed to Mr Armstrong that it never intended to accuse him of being guilty of taking any performance enhancing drugs and sincerely apologised for any such impression.

"Mr Armstrong has always vigorously opposed drugs in sport and appreciates the Sunday Times's efforts to also address the problem."

The book, co-written by then Sunday Times chief sportswriter David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, a former writer for French sports paper L'Equipe, was published in French shortly before the 2004 Tour de France.

The two authors and the writer of the article, Alan English, were also included in the lawsuit.

Armstrong, who recovered from life-threatening testicular cancer before starting his record-breaking run of success in the Tour, retired last year.

The statement said he "is now devoting virtually all his time and energy to the improvement of care and treatment of cancer patients and survivors, as well as funding for cancer research".



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