Nike fights subpoena in federal lawsuit against Armstrong

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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Athletic apparel giant Nike Inc. is fighting subpoenas for financial documents and witness depositions in the federal government’s lawsuit against former cyclist Lance Armstrong, arguing they are irrelevant to the case and could compromise trade secrets.

Armstrong and the government both have subpoenaed Nike, which was one of Armstrong’s major sponsors until it dropped him in 2012 after his use of performance-enhancing drugs was exposed.

The government is suing Armstrong to recover more than $30 million the U.S. Postal Service paid to sponsor his teams from 1998-2004. Damages could go as high as $100 million. The lawsuit was initially filed by former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis, who stands to collect a portion of any penalty against Armstrong.

The subpoenas seek Nike financial records and documents of any discussions about Armstrong’s doping.

In court filings this week in Portland, Oregon, the company asked a federal judge to modify the subpoenas to sharply limit evidence and keep any documents or testimony provided secret under a protective order.

Armstrong wants records of how profitable Nike’s sponsorship was for the company, and hopes to draw parallels to his claim that the U.S. Postal Service made more money off him than it paid him. Nike lawyers said the company’s sponsorship records are tightly held trade secrets, and potential disclosure would help competitors.

“Nike takes considerable effort to maintain the secrecy of its records regarding athlete sponsorships,” company lawyers wrote.

The company also argued that its sponsorship of Armstrong is irrelevant to any deal he and his team had with the Postal Service.

The government wants Nike to turn over any communications with Armstrong about performance-enhancing drug use and records the company previously gave a federal criminal grand jury that investigated Armstrong in 2010-2011. Nike lawyers insisted the company didn’t know about Armstrong’s doping, which he has now admitted publicly and in sworn testimony.

The subpoena dispute was set for a Sept. 29 hearing.

Australia’s Jay Vine wins Tour Down Under

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ADELAIDE, Australia — Australia’s Jay Vine defended his overnight lead to win the Tour Down Under, the first event of the 2023 World Tour.

Simon Yates of Britain won the final stage and moved up from third to second place on overall standings. Vine came in second on the stage to secure the biggest win of his career in a stage race.

The UAE Team Emirates rider took the overall tour lead when he finished second in Stage 2 and third in Stage 3. He came into the final stage with a 15-second lead on general classification.

The 70-mile stage involved four laps of a 15.5 mile-circuit through the Adelaide Hills before finishing just beyond the summit of Mount Lofty.

Yates led the crucial attack on the ascent less than 1.2 miles from the finish, but Vine jumped onto his wheel and Australian Ben O’Connor also joined in.

O’Connor led out close to the finish line, Vine briefly passed him but Yates came over the top to claim the stage win. Vine retained his overall advantage and claimed the title in his debut appearance in the Tour Down Under.

The 27-year-old made his name in e-Sports before being signed by the UAE team after winning the academy program on the Zwift online platform. He won two stages of the Vuelta a Espana last year and the Australian Time Trial title.

“It’s pretty incredible to be standing here and wearing this jersey,” Vine said. “The way we drove that was first class. My guys were incredible.”

The final stage featured a breakaway of 13 riders but Vine’s UAE teammates led the chase by the peloton and put their rider in a position to contest the win.

Yates again rode an aggressive race but had to be happy with the stage win.

“We came Down Under with a lot of ambition. We put a lot into it and we didn’t come away with the overall but we can walk away pretty happy,” Yates said. “Obviously Jay Vine is a massive talent and the crowd will be happy with a local winner.”

France’s Coquard wins Tour Down Under Stage 4; Vine leads

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ADELAIDE, Australia — French cyclist Bryan Coquard won Stage 4 of the Tour Down Under for his first-ever World Tour win, while Australia’s Jay Vine retained the overall tour lead by 15 seconds with one stage remaining.

Coquard is a lightweight sprinter who has had 49 wins in a decade-long career but had never won on the World Tour until he cleared out near the finish to claim the 82-mile stage by a margin of about just over 100 feet.

Vine was among the leading group that shared Coquard’s winning time and who retained his lead on general classification over Britain’s Simon Yates and Germany’s Phil Bauhaus. The race concludes with Stage 5, which ends atop 2,329-foot Mount Lofty.

“It’s a long time that I’ve waited for this win, 10 years,” said Coquard, who rides for the French Cofidis team. “I never really expected and I’m very happy and relieved with this win.”

While the stage was flat and suited sprinters, it had its challenges. Cross-winds and occasional gradients made the stage difficult and confounded some riders.

After an early breakaway by Jonas Rutsch and former tour winner Daryl Impey of South Africa, the peloton broke into two groups with Vine and other tour leaders among the leading group.

The leading group stayed together around the last, sharp bend towards the finish and Coquard bided his time until his late sprint left other riders flat-footed.

“It was pretty stressful,” Vine said. “There was one point there, I thought we were going to have an easy day and I was happy, smiling, waving to families on the side of the road.

“Then, 45 kilometers in it was on and it was on until the end so it was a very hard day. There was a lot more calorie expenditure than I was planning.”