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Federal judge dismisses Lance Armstrong's lawsuit against USADA

The cyclist filed a suit Monday seeking to stop the USADA from stripping him of his seven Tour de France titles. Judge Sam Sparks rejected the filing for 'failure to comply with the federal rules of civil procedure.'

July 09, 2012|By Lance Pugmire
  • Lance Armstrong is trying to stop the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency from charging him with using performance-enhancing drugs.
Lance Armstrong is trying to stop the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency from charging… (Bas Czerwinski / Associated…)

A federal judge Monday quickly dismissed a lawsuit filed by Lance Armstrong seeking to stop the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency from stripping the champion cyclist of his seven Tour de France titles.

Armstrong's legal team said it intends to refile the lawsuit Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, Texas, rejected the original filing for "failure to comply with the federal rules of civil procedure."

USADA has charged Armstrong as a central figure in a years-long doping conspiracy that fueled his run and covered up acts during his streak of Tour de France titles from 1999-2005.

Armstrong has continually denied using performance-enhancing substances, citing hundreds of negative drug tests over more than a decade.

Sparks criticized Armstrong's attorneys for including lawsuit "allegations that are wholly irrelevant to Armstrong's claims — and which, the court must presume, were included solely to increase media coverage of this case, and to incite public opinion against the defendants."

In the 111-page filing, Armstrong's attorneys referred to a potential USADA arbitration hearing as "a kangaroo court proceeding."

"Contrary to Armstrong's apparent belief, pleadings filed in the United States District Courts are not press releases, internet blogs, or pieces of investigative journalism," Sparks noted in his three-page rejection.

Armstrong attorney Tim Herman later said, "When," the judge, "speaks, I listen. It doesn't change the legal issues involved or any of the relief that we seek. I certainly heard what Judge Sparks said. I intend to conform my conduct precisely."

The original lawsuit claimed USADA Chief Executive Travis Tygart has targeted Armstrong with a "belief that USADA is above the United States Constitution," urging the court to issue an injunction by Saturday and review USADA's conduct, its jurisdictional rights and whether statute of limitations rules applied.

Saturday is the USADA deadline for Armstrong to decide whether to accept his penalty of surrendering his Tour de France titles or to fight the allegations in arbitration that would likely occur in the fall.

In the lawsuit, Armstrong's legal team revisited the cyclist's claim that Tygart and federal investigator Jeff Novitzky have pursued the cyclist with a "vendetta" that included evidence brought to a grand jury in Los Angeles that closed with no criminal charges.

"Defendant Tygart shares with Agent Novitzky a well-publicized obsession with 'getting' Mr. Armstrong," the attorneys wrote. "Defendant Tygart evidently believes that USADA needs to bring a big case against a 'big fish' to justify its existence."

The attorneys also claimed USADA has cut "secret deals" with former Armstrong teammates to secure testimony against him in exchange for reduced penalties.

Tygart issued a statement affirming the actions of his quasi-governmental agency that is empowered to strip awards.

"USADA was built by athletes on the principles of fairness and integrity," Tygart said. "Like previous lawsuits aimed at concealing the truth, this lawsuit is without merit and we are confident the courts will continue to uphold the established rules which provide full constitutional due process and are designed to protect the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of sport."

lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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