Lance Armstrong and Sunday Times settle over drug claims

Cyclist Lance Armstrong, seven times winner of the Tour de France, and The Sunday Times have settled their legal dispute over doping allegations.

The dispute stems from an article that appeared in June 2004, which Armstrong's lawyers argued could be interpreted as meaning that he had taken performance-enhancing drugs and that he was a "fraud, a cheat and a liar". The paper denied that this was the meaning of the piece.

Mr Justice Gray in a High Court ruling on Friday said: "In my judgment, the hypothetical ordinary, reasonable reader would have understood The Sunday Times's article as a whole — read once in conjunction with its headline, photographs and their captions — to mean that Mr Armstrong had taken drugs to enhance his performance in cycling competitions."

"If that is the meaning, then it appears to me inevitably to follow that Mr Armstrong's conduct in so doing was fraudulent and amounted to cheating and that his denials were lies.

Accordingly, I would uphold the meaning contended for on behalf of Mr Armstrong and reject the meaning advanced on behalf of the defendants."

In the wake of last Friday's High Court ruling, law firm Schillings, who acted for Armstrong, said in a statement: "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."

In a statement, Armstrong said: "I am extremely happy with today's judgment, which is the latest in a series of consistent rulings in our favour. 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."

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