Lance Armstrong suit against anti-doping agency hits roadblock

Mon Jul 9, 2012 7:12pm EDT
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By Chris Francescani

(Reuters) - A federal judge swiftly dismissed a lawsuit on Monday that retired cycling champ Lance Armstrong had filed in a bid to stop the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency from proceeding with a case charging him with using drugs during the years he won the Tour de France.

District Judge Sam Sparks, who said he would allow lawyers to file an amended complaint within 20 days, called the suit a "lengthy and bitter polemic" rather than the "short and plain statement of detailed facts."

"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 a few kernels of factual material relevant to the claims," Sparks wrote in a three-page ruling, released only hours after the cyclist filed suit.

Armstrong was facing a Saturday deadline to either challenge the charges he had taken performance-enhancing drugs, or accept sanctions that could strip him of his seven Tour de France titles and ban him from the sport for life if he is found guilty.

The USADA is a quasi-governmental agency created by Congress in 2000 and charges would be considered by its own arbitration process. Any penalties would be binding within the sport, but federal courts have the power to overrule the agency.

Lawyers for Armstrong contend that the USADA gathered evidence by threatening to ruin the careers of fellow cyclists who have agreed to testify against him. Lawyers for Armstrong also argue that the agency's rules violate Armstrong's right to a fair trial and that it lacks proper jurisdiction to charge him.

The legal action, filed in Armstrong's Austin, Texas, hometown, claims the agency's investigation is causing "irreparable" damage to the champion cyclist, who won seven straight Tour de France championships between 1999 and 2005.

In a statement issued Monday, the USADA said Armstrong's lawsuit is "without merit" and that USADA rules "provide full constitutional due process… designed to protect the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of the sport."   Continued...

Lance Armstrong, founder of the LIVESTRONG foundation, takes part in a special session regarding cancer in the developing world during the Clinton Global Initiative in New York September 22, 2010. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson