Armstrong perjury charges 'unlikely'

Disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong is unlikely to face criminal prosecution for perjury following his admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs, according to the lawyer who questioned the American under oath.

The 41-year-old Armstrong admitted to doping during his record run of seven Tour de France wins during an interview with Oprah Winfrey last week, contradicting testimony he gave under oath to Jeff Tillotson in November 2005.

While his confession opens up Armstrong to a host of legal charges, the passage of time means perjury charges are unlikely, although Tillotson's clients SCA Promotions is seeking to recoup $12-million it paid Armstrong after losing its case more than seven years ago.

"Within the first minute of his interview with Oprah Winfrey he said yes to a series of questions regarding his use of performance-enhancing drugs that he had answered no to me, under oath, in giving sworn testimony," said Tillotson.

"For us it was a very quick acknowledgement by Mr Armstrong that not only had he been lying to the public for years, but that he had lied directly and purposely to us under oath.

"The statute of limitations for Mr Armstrong to be prosecuted criminally for perjury in Texas for what he said in our case has probably run. It's probably too old a crime."

Since Armstrong's confession last week, Tillotson has been in contact with Armstrong's lawyer, Austin-based Tim Herman, to inform the litigator that SCA Promotions is prepared to open civil proceedings against the Texan.

Lengthy legal proceedings could follow unless Armstrong agrees to a settlement.

SCA Promotions and Tillotson anticipated Armstrong would be more cautious during his return to cycling in 2009 after he insisted that the 2005 Tour de France was the last time he had doped.

However evidence to the contrary exists in the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) report which led to his downfall, and the prospect of Armstrong competing naturally during his third place finish in 2009 and the 2010 Tour was "less than one in a million".

Tillotson described the USADA evidence against Armstrong as "very compelling" and believes there is an agenda behind his wish to be allowed to compete in triathlons.

"We have to evaluate whether this is a man truly sorry for what he did or sorry that he got caught," Tillotson added.

"Mr Armstrong made his choices, he made them deliberately, he made them forcefully and now he has to pay that price."