Armstrong settles libel case with British newspaper

LONDON -- Lance Armstrong settled his libel case against a
British newspaper over doping allegations Friday after winning a
preliminary court ruling.

The seven-time Tour de France champion sued The Sunday Times
over a June 2004 article that referred to a book, "LA Confidential
-- The Secrets of Lance Armstrong."

The High Court in London ruled in favor of Armstrong in a
pretrial motion, saying the article "meant accusation of guilt and
not simply reasonable grounds to suspect."

Later, both sides announced that a settlement had been reached.
Terms were not disclosed, but it means the case will not go to

"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 apologizes for any such impression,"
the joint statement said. "Mr Armstrong has always vigorously
opposed drugs in sport and appreciates The Sunday Times' efforts to
also address the problem."

The article reprinted allegations that Armstrong had taken
performance enhancing drugs. Armstrong has denied all doping

The book, co-written by then Sunday Times chief sports writer
David Walsh and Pierre Ballester, a former writer for French sports
paper L'Equipe, was published in France (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.

After reading the article, along with the headline, photographs
and captions, any "reasonable reader would have understood [the
article] ... to mean that Mr. Armstrong had taken drugs to enhance
his performance in cycling competitions," Judge Charles Gray said.

The verdict meant the newspaper would have gone to trial having
to defend a position that it is accusing Armstrong of using drugs
and not that it was simply raising "questions" about his conduct
as a professional cyclist.

"I am extremely happy with today's judgment, which is the
latest in a series of consistent rulings in our favor," Armstrong
said about the earlier decision in a statement. "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."