Armstrong stumbles as he takes anti-doping agency to courtAUSTIN, Texas - A federal judge handed Lance Armstrong a quick setback Monday as he went to court to save his seven Tour de France titles and his reputation as one of the greatest cyclists ever.
Armstrong filed a lawsuit aimed at preventing the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency from moving ahead with charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout much of his long career.
But within hours, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks in Austin dismissed the 80-page complaint. He said it seemed more intended to whip up public opinion in Armstrong’s favor than focus on legal arguments.
Sparks, however, did not rule on the merits of Armstrong’s claims and will let him refile the lawsuit. Armstrong’s attorney Tim Herman said he will do that, possibly on Tuesday.
The lawsuit claimed U.S. ADA rules violate athletes’ constitutional right to a fair trial, and that the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction in Armstrong’s case. It also accused U.S. ADA’s chief executive, Travis Tygart, of waging a personal vendetta against the cancer survivor who won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005.
The judge was not impressed with a filing that dedicated dozens of pages to Armstrong’s career history and long-standing disputes with anti-doping officials.
“This Court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong’s desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement or vilification of defendants, by sifting through 80 mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims,” Sparks wrote.
Herman said he got the message.
“When [Sparks] speaks, I listen,” he said. “It doesn’t change the legal issues involved or any of the relief that we seek.”
The lawsuit was an aggressive, and expected, move as Armstrong seeks to preserve his racing legacy and his place as an advocate for cancer survivors and research. He wants Sparks to bar U.S. ADA from pursuing its case or issuing any sanctions against him.
Armstrong asked the court to issue an injunction by Saturday, the deadline to formally challenge the case against him in U.S. ADA’s arbitration process or accept the agency’s sanctions. He could receive a lifetime ban from cycling and be stripped of his Tour de France victories if found guilty.
Armstrong insists he is innocent.
“The process [U.S. ADA] seeks to force upon Lance Armstrong is not a fair process and truth is not its goal,” his lawsuit said, calling the U.S. ADA process a corrupt “kangaroo court.”
Tygart, who was named as co-defendant, said Armstrong’s lawsuit is “aimed at concealing the truth” and predicted Sparks will rule in the agency’s favor.
U.S. ADA, created in 2000 and recognized by Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic sports in the United States, formally charged Armstrong in June with taking performance-enhancing drugs and participating in a vast doping conspiracy on his Tour de France winning teams, some of which were sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.
The charges came after a two-year federal criminal investigation of Armstrong ended in February with no charges filed. The anti-doping agency, however, says up to 10 former teammates and associates are willing to testify against him and that it has blood samples from 2009-10 that are “fully consistent” with doping. AP