Three-time Tour de France winner Greg LeMond and the Trek Bicycle Corporation on Monday announced they had reached an out-of-court settlement on their dueling breach of contract lawsuits.
The agreement came exactly one month before the scheduled start of what had promised to be a bitterly contested, bruising and costly trial in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn. pitting the first American Tour winner against the Wisconsin-based bike manufacturer, which had formerly marketed a line under the LeMond name.
U.S. District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle formally dismissed the suit with prejudice Monday afternoon, meaning that neither side can raise the same issues in court again. Terms of the settlement are confidential, but LeMond's San Francisco-based lawyer Jamie DiBoise confirmed that Trek will give donations totaling $200,000 to a charity, 1in6.org, that LeMond helped found to support adult victims of childhood sexual abuse. LeMond revealed several years ago that he had been molested by a family friend while growing up.
DiBoise told ESPN.com that LeMond is not constrained from speaking about the case, but added that his client would be silent for the time being because he is exhausted and suffering from strep throat. "He's been ordered by his lawyers to take a vacation and decompress," DiBoise said.
The settlement, fashioned after the two parties began to find common ground through court-ordered mediation, will enable LeMond to move on after almost two years of financially and emotionally draining drama, DiBoise said.
He compared both sides to fighters too fatigued to throw another punch and with little taste for dredging up the "nastiness" a trial would have engendered -- namely, providing the most sensational forum yet for the long-running war of words between LeMond and seven-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong.
Trek claimed that LeMond had helped torpedo himself and the dealers who sold his bikes by attacking the company's franchise athlete. LeMond countered by insisting he had proof that Armstrong had used his considerable clout to influence Trek to undermine him. But in the end, both sides decided it was not in their best interests to take that fight before a jury.
"I am pleased to resolve the issues between Trek and myself and am happy to be able to move forward with the things important in my life," LeMond said in a statement released jointly by both parties' lawyers. "I take deep satisfaction in this resolution and believe it will have a positive impact on those that can benefit most from the purpose of 1in6.org."
In the statement, Trek president John Burke said, "Greg has a hard-won place in the Pantheon of bicycle racing and we are proud of what we were able to accomplish together. Trek respects Greg's efforts and commitment to the charitable foundation, and Trek is pleased to lend its support to that very worthwhile endeavor."
Attorney Ralph Weber, who represented Trek, said that would be the company's final word on the subject.
Rights to the eponymous bicycle line now revert to LeMond, who is weighing how soon to bring it back to the market, DiBoise said. LeMond currently owns a fitness company that produces stationary bikes.
Technically, LeMond vs. Trek and vice versa was about red ink and the lackluster sales of LeMond's namesake brand. Each side charged that the other had damaged the marketability of the LeMond line through various bad business practices. But a central theme for both sides was what part LeMond, in publicly casting doubt on the legitimacy of Armstrong's performances, played in the brand's demise.
Armstrong has always denied he used performance-enhancing drugs. When LeMond assailed him in a 2001 newspaper interview for working with controversial Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, several of whose former clients have been convicted of doping, LeMond, once Armstrong's hero, became the target of his wrath.
The two men feuded openly throughout the prime of Armstrong's career. Hostilities escalated again when Armstrong came out of retirement in late 2008. LeMond appeared at a press conference to personally challenge Armstrong, who was then touting an independent drug testing program.
That encounter was reasonably civil, but the two soon resumed their long-distance sniping. Speaking at an anti-doping conference in Europe last year, LeMond asserted that Armstrong lacked a conscience. Armstrong continued to make dismissive and disparaging remarks about LeMond in interviews and on his Twitter feed.
Meanwhile, lawyers from both sides collected evidence and arranged depositions of witnesses in what is known as the discovery process -- a period that formally ended last June 1. LeMond's lawyers at the time did not ask to depose Armstrong but did call in his ex-wife Kristin, who was represented by one of Lance Armstrong's long-time personal lawyers, Tim Herman.
By the time that deposition was actually conducted, LeMond had hired DiBoise, who did the questioning. On Herman's advice, Kristin Armstrong declined to respond to a number of direct questions about whether her ex-husband had used or talked about using performance-enhancing drugs. She also said she had little to no knowledge about any business dealings related to Trek or LeMond.
DiBoise said that had he been LeMond's lawyer at the time depositions were scheduled, he would have tried to question Lance Armstrong. That testimony could have been introduced at trial if the judge had allowed it, but once the discovery period ended, it would have been impossible for LeMond's legal team to subpoena Armstrong unless he had happened to travel to Minnesota.
Mark Higgins, Lance Armstrong's spokesman, said Armstrong would not comment on the settlement.
Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com.