Armstrong's Case Dismissed

Staff Writer
Judge rules that Lance must deal with USADA or appeal in federal court

A federal judge in Austin, TX, has thrown out a lawsuit filed by Lance Armstrong—an attempt by the seven-time Tour de France winner to halt the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA’s) drug case against him.

The lawsuit had claimed that the USADA held no jurisdiction over Armstrong and that its proceedings were unconstitutional.

Armstrong may now appeal his case in federal court, move forward with the USADA’s arbitration process or accept its sanctions. If found guilty, Lance will be stripped of his Tour titles.

Judge Sam Sparks had previously thrown out this lawsuit, claiming that the huge document was a publicity stunt for Armstrong. After refiling, Sparks stated with his decision that while “there are troubling aspects of this case,” the USADA’s arbitration rules are “sufficient, if applied reasonably, to satisfy due process.”

Travis Tygart, CEO of the USADA, said in a statement that he was “pleased” with the court’s decision.

What is, perhaps, more telling of the overall atmosphere in the ongoing battle between Armstrong, the USADA, the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale, or the international governing body for cyclists), and even USA Cycling, though, is the tone with which Sparks handed down his decision—a tone that, frankly, sounded more like an annoyed parent forced into a dispute between his petulant children than a federal judge presiding over a case.

As mystifying as the USADA’s election to proceed at this date and in this manner may be, it is equally perplexing that these three national and international bodies are apparently unable to work together to accomplish their shared goal—the regulation and promotion of cycling. However, if these bodies wish to damage the image of their sport through bitter infighting, they will have to do so without the involvement of the United Sates courts.

And without commenting on his guilt or innocence, Sparks seems to sympathize with Armstrong to a certain degree, juxtaposing the USADA’s “apparent single-minded determination to force Armstrong to arbitrate the charges against him” with the “UCI’s equally evident desire not to proceed against him,” ultimately concluding that Armstrong would lack “fair consideration in either forum.” (Read Sparks' full decision here.)

But for now, with or without sympathy from the feds, Lance—and his lawyers—have some decisions to make.

Still confused about the doping charges brought against Lance? Check out our primer, Doping for Dummies.