OVERRULED: Judge throws out American's lawsuit against USADA
A FEDERAL judge on Monday dismissed Lance Armstrong's lawsuit against the US Anti-Doping Agency, opening the way for the agency's drug case against the seven-time Tour de France winner to proceed.
US District Judge Sam Sparks noted "troubling aspects" of USADA's case against Armstrong and a "perplexing" battle between USADA and the International Cycling Union over jurisdiction in the case, but despite his criticism of those bodies he was firm in his view that the US courts were not the place to decide the issue.
Armstrong, who has vehemently denied doping during his cycling career, had argued USADA lacked jurisdiction to pursue a case against him and claimed the agency's arbitration process violated his rights under the US constitution.
Sparks dismissed the lawsuit, filed in Armstrong's hometown of Austin, Texas. Armstrong can appeal to a higher court, move on to arbitration with USADA -- and perhaps eventually to the Court of Arbitration for Sport -- or accept sanctions from the agency, which has charged Armstrong with doping during the years he won his Tour de France titles from 1999-2005.
Penalties could include a lifetime ban from cycling and the loss of his Tour de France titles.
"We are pleased that the federal court in Austin, Texas, has dismissed Lance Armstrong's lawsuit and upheld the established rules which provide Congressionally-mandated due process for all athletes," USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said in a statement.
"The rules in place have protected the rights of athletes for over a decade in every case USADA has adjudicated and we look forward to a timely, public arbitration hearing in this case, should Armstrong choose, where the evidence can be presented, witness testimony will be given under oath and subject to cross examination, and an independent panel of arbitrators will determine the outcome of the case."
Armstrong has called USADA's pursuit of the case a "vendetta" and his attorney Tim Herman welcomed Sparks' comment calling USADA's motives "mystifying".
"UCI has asserted that it has exclusive authority to decide whether charges should be brought in this case and has directed USADA not to proceed further," Herman said in a statement.
"We are reviewing the court's lengthy opinion and considering Armstrong's options at this point." AFP