Not exactly a surprise after all the innuendo of the past few years, but it appears that Lance Armstrong and Trek are flexing their proverbial muscle. From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:
By DAVID PHELPS, Star Tribune
April 8, 2008
Trek Bicycle Corp. moved Tuesday to sever its relationship with former Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, Minnesota's best-known bike rider, alleging that LeMond's feud with cyclist Lance Armstrong is hurting Trek's sales.
LeMond's attorneys say Trek is retaliating against LeMond for his outspoken criticism of the use of performance-enhancing drugs in world cycling circles.
Under a licensing agreement, Wisconsin-based Trek manufactures and markets a LeMond line of road bikes. Trek also endorses Armstrong, who has long denied accusations of blood-doping.
LeMond and Armstrong have feuded since 2001, when LeMond was quoted criticizing Armstrong's association with an Italian doctor linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
LeMond later apologized and said his remarks were taken out of context. But in 2006 he alleged that Armstrong threatened him when LeMond agreed to testify in a legal dispute involving Armstrong. Armstrong said LeMond "is just not in check with reality."
In a lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Madison, Wis., Trek alleged that LeMond's comments about Armstrong have harmed Trek's business by hurting sales among cycling fans. Trek accuses LeMond of breach of contract and asks the court to terminate the deal.
LeMond sued Trek last month for allegedly failing to live up to terms of the licensing agreement, including promoting international sales.
Trek officials said termination of their agreement with LeMond was a business decision involving a product line that had "flattened out."
Attorneys for LeMond said the company retaliated against LeMond for his outspoken opposition to doping in events such as the Tour de France, which he won in 1986, 1989 and 1990.
"Mr. LeMond is a worldwide leader in the anti-doping crusade," said attorney Christopher Madel of the Minneapolis firm Robins, Miller, Kaplan & Ciresi. "It's pretty clear Trek is upset with Greg LeMond's anti-doping stand."