Armstrong sues to block doping charges
AUSTIN, 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 attorney Tim Herman said he will do that, possibly Tuesday.
The lawsuit claimed USADA rules violate athletes' constitutional right to a fair trial and that the agency doesn't have jurisdiction in Armstrong's case. It also accused USADA'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 eighty 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 USADA 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 USADA'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 (USADA) seek to force upon Lance Armstrong is not a fair process and truth is not its goal,” his lawsuit said, calling the USADA 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.
Armstrong, who retired in 2011, said he has passed more than 500 drug tests in his career and was never flagged for a positive test.
Also charged by USADA are former Armstrong team manager Johan Bruyneel and several team doctors and associates.