Lance Armstrong, the now-disgraced cycling legend, offered bribes to competitors in a series of 1993 races, including one in Philadelphia, in order to win a $1 million bonus, according to allegations in court documents uncovered by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The network said the allegation came from a sworn deposition given by New Zealand cyclist Steven Swart in Armstrong's 2006 lawsuit against a Dallas-based insurance company. SCA Promotions, Armstrong contended, failed to make a promised $5 million bonus payment after the American cyclist won his sixth Tour de France.
Swart alleged that Armstrong offered an opponent $50,000 to help fix the CoreStates U.S. Pro Cycling race in Philadelphia as well as events in Pittsburgh and West Virginia. The bonus was offered for anyone capturing all three, which Armstrong did.
Armstrong, who this week resigned from his charitable foundation and lost a lucrative Nike endorsement deal in the fallout over charges that he used performance-enhancing substances, has denied the allegations.
Phil Anderson, an Australian cyclist who Swart contended witnessed the bribe's being made, told the network he did not recall it.
"I can't remember an offer," Anderson recently told a network reporter. "I mean that's a few years ago. I don't recall any meeting."
Armstrong won the Pittsburgh race and was leading late in the West Virginia event, which ran for five days.
"Prior to its finish, we were approached to, to obviously help them, well basically not help them, but to not attack them," Swart said in filmed testimony.
Asked if that meant to allow him to win, Swart, then a member of the Coors team, said it did.
According to Swart, the first contact was made by a member of Armstrong's Motorola team to one of his Coors teammates. The two men then men met with Armstrong and Anderson in the latter two's hotel room.
They were offered $50,000 "if we didn't be aggressive and challenge for the rest of the race and obviously for the final race in Philadelphia."
The riders, Swart said, agreed to keep it quiet because such a thing wasn't "ethical . . . in the sporting arena."
Swart emphasized in his testimony, the network said, that Armstrong probably would have won all three races anyway.
"So as far as I was concerned," he said, "I was walking away with a bonus."
Swart said the $50,000 was distributed among members of the Coors team.
In an accompanying sworn affidavit from October 2004, Swart said: "We accepted the offer because we considered it to be a good deal for our team. . . . Of course, our agreement had to remain confidential because the bonus of $1 million was guaranteed by an insurance company, and if our deal had become known, the insurance company would have refused to pay, on the basis that it had been defrauded by the arrangement."
Anderson said the $1 million bonus was eventually split among Armstrong's team members.
"It was like a lottery, so if you want to take all in cash, suddenly from $1 million it goes to $700,000; then I think the taxation department takes 48 percent, and I think the cycling federation takes 10 percent, and finally there was a pot of $450,000 or something like that, which is split 15 ways or whatever it was amongst the team," Anderson said.
UCI to respond. Cycling's governing body could respond "at any time" to the report by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency that Armstrong was a serial drug cheat.
The International Cycling Union received USADA's report last week and has until the end of the month to decide whether to accept the American agency's decision to strip Armstrong of his Tour titles or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
"All we can confirm is that the deadline is Oct. 31," UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told the Associated Press on Thursday. "But it could happen any time from tomorrow onwards."
USADA banned Armstrong for life and said he should be stripped of his tour titles because of his involvement in "the most sophisticated, professionalized, and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." The USADA report has already cost Armstrong key sponsors, including Nike and Anheuser-Busch.
Armstrong also stepped down Wednesday as chairman of the Livestrong cancer charity he founded. Former UCI president Hein Verbruggen said he expected the governing body to respond late next week.