Judge throws out Lance Armstrong's lawsuit aimed at halting doping probe

Monday, August 20, 2012 - 2:03pm

A federal judge on Monday dismissed the latest lawsuit filed by champion cyclist Lance Armstrong aimed at halting the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's case against him.

"This Court cannot interfere, contrary to both the will of Congress and Armstrong's agreement to arbitrate, on the basis of a speculative injury," U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks wrote.

The USADA -- a quasi-government agency recognized as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic, Pan American and Paralympic sports in the United States -- has accused Armstrong of using, possessing, trafficking and giving to others performance-enhancing drugs, as well as covering up doping violations.

The seven-time Tour de France winner asked the court for action against the USADA for a host of reasons, having maintained he's never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs and accusing the USADA and its CEO, Travis Tygart, of being out to get a "big fish" to justify the agency's existence.

Armstrong did not have an immediate reaction to Monday's decision on his Facebook or Twitter pages, which he often updates several times daily.

In his ruling, Judge Sparks ruled that Armstrong's assertions that he unfairly didn't have the right to due process "fail as a matter of law, and must be dismissed."

The judge also refused to side with the cyclist on his other claims, including that the USADA should not have jurisdiction in his case. He noted that federal law dictates that eligibility questions for cycling and other such sports should "be decided through arbitration, rather than federal lawsuits."

"Even if the Court has jurisdiction over Armstrong's remaining claims, the Court finds they are best resolved through the well-established system of international arbitration, by those with expertise in the field, rather than by the unilateral edict of a single nation's courts," stated Sparks, a judge in the U.S. district court based out of Austin, Texas.

Armstrong had filed a lawsuit against the USADA in July, only to have it thrown out a day later by Sparks. At that time, the judge wrote that the cyclist's case was was full of legally irrelevant claims "included solely to increase media coverage of this case" and stir up hostility toward the USADA.

The suit was refiled the following day, once again urging the court to file an injunction against the USADA but 55 pages shorter than the original.

The 40-year-old Armstrong faces a lifetime ban and could be stripped of his Tour de France victories if found guilty by the USADA. Armstrong won the tour each year from 1999 to 2005, most of those for a team sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. He retired twice from cycling -- first in 2005, for four years, and again in 2011.

In a June letter to Armstrong, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, the USADA said it collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were "fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions."

EPO, or erythropoietin, boosts the number of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the muscles.

Armstrong has been dogged by allegations of drug abuse in recent years, with compatriot Floyd Landis -- who was found guilty of doping in the 2006 Tour de France, resulting in him being stripped of the title -- making a series of claims last year.

Armstrong came out fighting in May 2011, in the face of fresh allegations made on CBS News' "60 Minutes" show by another American, Tyler Hamilton. In the CBS interview, Hamilton, who retired in 2009 after twice testing positive himself, said he first saw Armstrong use EPO in 1999.


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