Judge tosses Armstrong's lawsuit; Doping case to continue

Marilyn Tennissen Aug. 21, 2012, 8:39am

AUSTIN - A federal judge has dismissed Lance Armstrong's lawsuit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, allowing the agency's drug case against the seven-time Tour de France winner to move ahead, the Associated Press reported Monday.

"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 of Austin wrote.

USADA brought official charges against Armstrong on June 28, stating it had almost a dozen of Armstrong's former teammates who would say that not only did he use performance enhancing drugs but also encouraged them to use the substances too.

Armstrong, who retired in February 2011, claims the USADA conducted a "kangaroo court" with hand-picked arbitrators and no rules that allow his lawyers to cross examine witnesses.

 He says the agency lacks jurisdiction because any investigation or penalization must come from the International Cycling Union. 

Armstrong also argues that his Fifth Amendment rights protecting him from double jeopardy are being violated. A federal grand jury in Los Angeles investigated Armstrong in 2010, but the case was closed with no indictments.

But Armstrong claims USADA is illegally using witness interviews and testimony from the grand jury investigation in its current case.

His first attempt to get a restraining order against the USADA was immediately thrown out by Judge Sparks, and was refilled the next day.

In Monday's ruling, Judge Sparks ruled that Armstrong's assertions that he was denied his right to due process "fail as a matter of law, and must be dismissed."

The judge also refused to side with Armstrong 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."

Armstrong, the judge pointed out, "has not exhausted his internal remedies, namely ... procedures in the USADA protocol."

"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," Judge Sparks wrote.

The cyclist has three days to decide if he will head to arbitration to the fight charges or accept harsh sanctions including a possible lifetime ban and the stripping of his seven titles in the Tour de France.

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