ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Trek Sues to End Contract with Greg LeMond

LemondAt left is Greg LeMond (in the yellow jersey) poised to win his third Tour de France.  In 1986, LeMond became the first American to win cycling's most celebrated race.  In 1987, he was nearly killed in a hunting accident.  He and the 37 shotgun pellets still in his body, including two imbedding in the lining of his heart, returned to racing and won the Tour again in 1989 and 1990.  Needless to say, he is a great hero to American cycling fans, and unlike the strangely omnipotent Lance Armstrong, LeMond was appreciated by European fans as well. 

Greg LeMond was one of the first riders to speak out against doping in the sport.  You would think that any company associated with the sport would kill to have such a distinguished and squeaky clean spokesperson.  Yet, as the AP reports, bicycle-maker Trek is suing for permission to breach its endorsement contract with LeMond.  Apparently, the estrangement between LeMond and Trek is a product of his anti-doping comments, including comments directed at Armstrong, who is reported to have close ties to Trek.

According to the AP, Trek president John Burke accused LeMond of reneging on a promise to curb "his comments about doping in cycling to focus on the brand." Burke claims that LeMond continued to speak out against doping and that LeMond's comments resulted in a decline in sales in the brand.  Hmmm. I wonder what could have hurt the brand:

a. The fact that doping scandals have ruined the last two Tours and are threatening to keep the top team out of this year's race;

b. The entry of new manufacturers into the high-end bicycle market; or

c. Greg LeMond's principled stand against doping in competitive cycling.

[Jeremy Telman]

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It doesn't appear that the facts would lead to a repudiation of the contract based on anything under the avoidance doctrine, so is Trek just asserting a breach on the part LeMond? Maybe a breach of a condition?

Posted by: Ryan Ballard | Apr 9, 2008 9:10:47 AM

I think Trek's suit is a response to an earlier suit by LeMond. I gather from the press reports that LeMond brought a breach of contract claim, alleging that Trek was not abiding by its obligations to promote its LeMond line of racing bicycles. He sought damages for breach of the contract that was to run through 2010. Trek also wants to end the contract but without damages.
You can read more here:

Posted by: Jeremy Telman | Apr 9, 2008 9:18:26 AM

I loved LeMond's exploits and was a huge fan. His time has passed.We can recall and celebrate these great expliots, but It's also important to put things in propoer perspective. Greg does not have the right, in my opinion to speak out hint either overtly or covertly that Armstrong may have or actually did dope. It is ruinous to Lance's reputation, and ruinous to the Trek Company( bite the hand that feeds you...)From what I have read, Trek is in the right to pursue this action. Whether you appreciate or despise Lance's attitude doesn't matter. He has never tested positive... Innocent until proven guilty

Posted by: M.Hyacinthe | Apr 10, 2008 12:04:24 PM

Jeremy Telman has misspoken. Trek president John Burke did not say he was against LeMond speaking out against doping in sports. To the contrary, Mr Burke said Trek approved of Mr Lemond's stand on this. What Trek was objecting to was LeMond's repeated nasty remarks about other pro cyclists doing drugs. He particularly singled out Lance Armstrong and Floyd Landis, both of whom he has met only a few times. He certainly has no personal knowledge of either doping, but that hasn't stopped Mr. Lemon...excuse me, Mr LeMond.

Posted by: Donna J Frey | Apr 15, 2008 12:42:13 PM

So Greg has been screwed over by Trek. Who hasn’t? The so called “American bicycle company” that can’t manage to sell any American bikes for under $2500, has put $ well ahead of ethics over the last 10-15 years. Greg deserves better. The bikes Trek is “designing”(maybe) and “purchasing” from their Asian sweat shops in his name are a disgrace to Greg’s name and renown as the greatest (drug free) American racer to ever win the Tour. I hope he seeks out another builder (I.F., Ellsworth, Waterford, etc.) here or in Europe that will be proud to build his bikes, not merely contractually obligated. Trek and Lance deserve each other! Now I have to hope Lance’s lawyers don’t sue me too.

Posted by: M.Kowalski | Apr 18, 2008 2:20:51 PM

Greg has EVERY right to speak out on doping, including his anti-Lance speculations. Lance likes to present himself as a cancer survivor who took EPO as part of his treatment only (and has admitted to that), but Greg believes from his own experience that it was not humanely possible to recover the way Lance did, so quickly, from his treatments. Only someone shot and almost killed himself, who had to recover from a near-death experience himself, can make that judgement, and Greg has. That's not to say he is 100% right, but he certainly knows better than the rest of us. Trek doesn't make money from the memories of Greg, they make it from the memories of Lance...

My money would be on Greg being right...

Posted by: Robert | Jul 13, 2008 3:25:31 PM

I am a cycling journalist with credits in most cycling publications of his time as well as a doping expose in Sports Illustrated. I waa quite close to Greg from his junior years through his first Tour.

I am working on a drug piece that would benefit greatly from his comments, but I have lost contact with him. We are both on the same page re doping, and I seek contact with him.

Posted by: Bjarne Rostaing | Aug 15, 2008 1:32:25 PM

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