Lance Armstrong’s Lawsuit Dismissed

Judge Sam Sparks

Lance Armstrong’s lawsuit has been dismissed by a judge in Texas. The case saw Lance Armstrong challenge the US Anti-Doping Agency, claiming they could not have jurisdiction over him and therefore any case against him was invalid.

Judge Sam Sparks ruled that whilst USADA’s charging letter was “woefully inadequate”, there was sufficient grounds to expect a just arbitration hearing given the arbitration panel would follow a due process and besides, Armstrong can always appeal there verdict to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

I don’t want to give a running commentary of this case as it’s seemingly never-ending saga. But today is the equivalent of a mountain stage in the stage race that is the USADA investigation and so it’s worth checking the standings.

Today’s verdict in one sentence
The USADA arbitration procedure is not unconstitutional as the process will provide Armstrong with more information on what he is charged with in due course and then it will allow him to plead his case, debate the process and should a verdict be reached, there is scope for further appeal.

What it means for Armstrong
It’s another legal setback for Lance Armstrong but in reality it’s merely a hit to his image, nothing more with the judge saying if he’s innocent then he’s got little to fear in an arbitration hearing. If anything his lawyers come out of this the worse, picking fights they weren’t going to win and seemingly making some mistakes along the way.

What else does it mean?
It’s a blow for the UCI. The President has been squabbling with USADA over who has jurisdiction and now a Texas court has said USADA can oversee the case. Clearly an international governing body in Switzerland isn’t subject to US law but this marks a setback because the judge has reviewed the relationships between USADA, US Cycling and the US Olympic Committee. The judge also states Armstrong has, in the past, signed up to the USADA rules so they can be applied.

As mystifying as 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 States courts

The judge made the particular point of lamenting how “international bodies are apparently unable to work together” adding the US courts cannot be dragged into this “infighting” as the quote above shows. He also doesn’t spare USADA of criticism, deploring their paperwork and raising wider questions, stating “USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping or if it is acting according to less noble motives“.

What next?
The next point on the calendar is 23 August, the date by which Lance Armstrong must decide whether to go to arbitration. If he goes ahead then we can expect a hearing in November… but this date could slip. If he rejects the arbitration then USADA can move, if it wishes, to sanction him.

If Lance Armstrong is no longer an active person in pro cycling, the UCI most certainly is. It will come under extra pressure now to bow to WADA. Indeed the UCI – as distinct from its President – must decide which side it wants to be on. Will it now move to offer full support to USADA or will it continue with the blocking tactics? The stakes are high with the IOC watching. Indeed it seems there could be some movement, in a  short press and sensible release cycling’s governing body said “the UCI notes that according to the US Court an arbitration proceedings should meet its concerns“.

Normally a US court has nothing to do with pro cycling. In fact that’s the point of Judge Spark’s ruling today. The judge writes with clarity and a direct manner. His message is that everyone should place their faith and efforts in the procedures and measures available under sports… at least until due process is exhausted. This has little to do with US law.

Nobody comes out of this looking good. USADA gets criticism, Armstrong’s lawyers are mocked, the governing bodies and agencies are “infighting” instead of promoting the sport. He’s right.

If today was a mountain stage USADA pulled out a small lead although it hasn’t ridden with style. But if its paperwork and procedures need fixing, this can be done. By contrast UCI and Lance Armstrong could find it harder to fix things and will continue to be worried about the arbitration hearing.

36 thoughts on “Lance Armstrong’s Lawsuit Dismissed”

  1. Whatever the UCI do, it is apparent now that there will never be clean cycling while McQuaid is still in charge with Hein pulling the strings.
    The open corruption on display in McQuaid’s letters has been startling, and has pretty much confirmed the allegations and rumours that have surfaced in the past regarding favouritism and so on.
    Who knows what favourites the UCI have nowadays?
    Until McQuaid is gone, cycling will remain a hopeless case.

    • Also does anyone else remember what Lance said when the federal case collapsed? Something about not wanting to fight anymore. Hah.
      Hope he goes to arbitration and everything gets dragged out into public view.
      He’s going down.

  2. Perhaps not so much egg on Armstrong’s face if seen as part of a long term strategy of attrition. That is, make USADA spend so much money that they start looking for a back door. As we know, USADA has a limited budget, the source of which is a Federal grant.

    • You might be right about a strategy of attrition but if you are that backfired for Armstrong today too – Sparks ordered Armstrong to pay USADA’s legal costs, so their budget is still looking ok for the moment.

    • This is a common problem in sports. The superstars are wealthy and can lay siege to governing bodies and agencies. I’m not particularly thinking of this case but the UCI has had to think carefully before appealing Contador’s verdict last year and also taking bio-passport cases, especially when big names are involved.

  3. Nice summary – pretty much how I read it as well. But of course already the BigTex faithful are screaming for rights available only to those under CRIMINAL prosecution and trotting out the tired, “he passed all the tests so he must be clean” mantra. They will not let go of the “beyond a reasonable doubt” idea even though it has nothing to do with this case or process. BigTex agreed to these procedures when he signed the racing license applications. But now, when it might cause him some problems he’s fighting tooth and nail to get out of it. I can understand the judge’ comments about the USADA motives, but just like the prosecutors in criminal cases offering lesser penalties to conspirators to rat out their higher ups, this seems like a case of getting the biggest fish of them all. The idea seems to be “if the biggest, richest and most powerful guy in cycling can be brought down if/when his cheating is discovered…the rest of you cheaters should think twice about getting away with it. EVERYONE must play by the same rules.” To someone facing the choice of using PED’s or not, the fall of BigTex could be a powerful deterrent.

    • I hope you’re right about the deterrent, and LA does get his comeuppance, but seeing Valverde and Contador lording it up at the Vuelta, being hailed like returning messiahs, shows a different image about doping and its consequences.

      • Difference is that there’s no proof that we know that they are doping now. Contador wasn’t even banned for ‘doping’ in the first place.

        • True enough, I just think it’s interesting to compare the pictures of LA being dragged kicking and screaming through the courts for actions ten years ago, and others winning races now, and to think about what they tell us about the sport. I’m not making any insinuations or anything.

        • Ridiculous ! Contador is juicing like almost every winner of big Tour. I can’t believe people are still defending these guys. the return of Contador is a shame for cyling. And guys like Froome, same thing, obviously doping…Coming from nowhere and being able to stick to a climber like Contador after a whole season peaking. That is the freak show this Vuelta seriously…Stop to be naive please !

          • If you have evidence of Froome doping, then i would encourage you to contact the UK Anti-Doping agency. I’m sure that ‘being able to click with Contador’ should provide them with all the evidence they need to start an investigation.

          • Would be nice to see some power data from today’s stage, in order to see if the recent downward trend in performances is maintained. Especially given what AC has produced in the past eg verbire etc

          • Whilst speculating on who’s doping from watching a stage is far from scientific, I would say that Contador thre in plenty of string accelerations but couldn’t keep the pace up. Possibly just an attacking rider riding to his strengths.

            Compare that to say his attack on Verbier in the 2009 tour when he put 2 minutes into everyone over a pretty short climb.

            Look well off the pace of that performance so I for one am hoping that either he is clean now or if he isn’t then he’s not able to dope to the same level.

          • Gotta say, I love the fact that the Sky/Wiggins/Froome fans are using the same arguments LA devotees used for years:
            He’s got a better coach, he’s naturally gifted, he’s revolutionized training….the list continues.

            Fact is, it’s always the other guy that cheats, not your guy.

          • Sim sorry but you are using the easy way out. IT has taken several years to finally admit that Armstrong was juicing. For Contador, despite a positive test, Spain is believing that he has always been 100% clean and so on for all the other riders that have been caught but never really guilty. Until the UCI is taking strong decision about doping and stop with the corruption, it will never stop. there is one very easy solution : blood test every week for everybody ..or at least the 50 first riders of the international classification..why nobody is doing it ? Why Wiggins who said that he would do it did not do it at the end ? why SKY is now saying that Armstrong is a clean guy ? just hypocrisy.They are just destroying their own sport and the sport of millions of riders. very sad.

    • That’s technically not true (the due process part). The government has to provide due process in civil cases. And even non-governmental organizations acting on behalf of the government have to meet due process requirements. That was part of Armstrong’s argument – that the USADA is acting on behalf of the US government.

      When he first filed the case, someone put a post explaining why the USADA is not caught in that definition. I can’t remember it though. The judge appears to have agreed.

  4. Can anybody tell me how USADA is trying to help the sport of cycling? Lose and they come out as schmucks. Win, and they trash a guy who last won a grand tour in 2005. Whatever happens to Lance is unlikely to change behaviors of riders today, clean or dirty.

    • You could just as well ask how someone cheating their way to 7 TdF victories and getting away with it helps the sport of cycling? And, as ever, it’s not just about Armstrong. Bruyneel is working, right now, at the Vuelta. Still reaping the benefits of having got away with it.

    • USADA is not charged with helping the sport of cycling, rather they’re charged with catching dope cheats. Catching dope cheats might not be good for cycling, and looking the other way (or worse) has been pretty much the way the UCI has operated for, well, pretty much ever. Changing the behavior of clean riders doesn’t much matter but I do believe if they finally catch up with and sanction the worldwide poster-boy of pro cycling, the cheaters, or those contemplating cheating will take notice. Until the sport hits rock-bottom and all the dirty laundry is aired, there’s little hope for real improvement.

      • Concur with Larry T. In my view the current USADA case naming the usual suspects has already presented some positive trends. We see a number of past U.S. Postal riders providing more transparency in public commentary or heading for retirement. It has fluttered UCI’s DkQuaid into a number of revealing and contradictory statements which I find elucidating, ergo, more evidence of the inner dysfunction of the cycling governing body. If USADA does get its paper work in good order, I’d be will to toss in a donation to support the arbitration. Obviously, LA filed the suit in Texas assuming he would be afforded Repubic of TexxArss good ole’ boy privilege. I guess that is only available to him at the UCI. The Pentagon Papers, Watergate, etc. was not revealed in a semblance of transparency in short order as formidable powers wanted to cover up the truth. Nevertheless, the final outcome was beneficial to most citizens to have access to the truth. I see the same benefit resulting in a final shaking of the needle stained dirty laundry of Mellow Johnny.

        • Yes, none of this “helps cycling”. But it’s a lesson that if you refuse to tackle problems then they can blow up years later and cost everyone even more. Hopefully those in charge of tennis, athletics and other sports are alert to this.

      • Not sure that’s true. I would submit that the image of cycling to the greater public (not the devoted fans, like those that read this blog), would be better off it they were LESS effective in pursuing PED use.

        See: NFL, NHL, NBA, MLB, FIFA, pro tennis, etc.

  5. I am going to have the best birthday ever.
    Lance is gonna have to buck up and choose to go down and most assuredly bitch about it for the rest of his life or roll the dice on arbitration, loose and bitch about it for the rest of his life.
    It is a rare occasion when an asshole bully gets his on a stage for all to see.
    Even better is to see all the blind fans cling to illusion in the most pathetic of manners.

    Related story:
    A British couple were in the bike shop today and they thought bikes would be on the decline here because of lances woes. I laughed. On the contrary people are buying bikes to get around and avoid the cost of gas not fight cancer. They were shocked. They also refused to believe he cheated then trotted out the they were all cheating and then capped it off with well if you beat cancer and ride like that you should be left alone.
    But it gets better. They touted wiggo is the new clean champ! LOLS.
    Nah kidz he’s the new armstrong just not as brazen and over the top. There is no such thing as a half season peak. Don’t exist. Especially when you post up marginal gains as the wonder program. Marginal gains should net modest results not a stage race winning streak lasting months on end.

    I would love to see the whole crooked house of cards come crashing down. If the UCI would do its actual job and leave the riders, manufacturers and promoters to do their jobs without interference, favoritism, corruption and cronyism the majority of the peleton may not feel the need to cheat. Then you’re left with the la’s and the riccos. Nutjobs book ending the spectrum and easy to catch.

    End rant.

  6. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall at UCI HQ when the call from LA came to McQuaid after McQuaid publicly stated that the case wasn’t under the UCI’s jurisdiction. “Pat? Lance here, let me tell you something, if I go down, you’re going with me, so you had better figure out a way to wrestle this case away from USADA, CAPICHE?” Pat, “capiche…”

  7. Interesting to see the judge’s take on going after non citizens (del moral, ferrrari, etc). Perhaps this will also help bring about licensing for all team staff (not just DS) in the ame way that coaches have to be accredited here in Oz. That will make it really simple to police/enforce.
    Well, maybe not THAT simple, but a step in the right direction anyway.

    • Note the UCI (and others) can influence non-licence holders, they can ban them. The International Tennis Federation has already issued a ban on Dr Del Moral. The important aspect here is not that Del Moral is going to pick up a tennis racket, instead any tennis player employing his services can be banned. The UCI has been told to apply to the ban but has yet to do this.

      • Agreed, but it’s still too grey an area – how to prove who they ‘work’ with or not?
        If all potential support staff (not just doctors) had to be licensed, and a rider or team had paid an unregistered doctor or support member for ANYTHING (with practical exceptions for emergencies, etc), then that could serve as a breach of the code (which would obviously need to be revised to specify this) and justify a ban.
        Plus, if riders that you as a soigner or doctor had treated, tested positive, you would stand to lose your license/serve a suspension as well.
        Harsh, I know, but if the practical reality is that riders don’t dope on their own, then making the punishment for everybody involved will help ensure that the individual is actively encouraged to ride clean…

        • I agree that licenses would be good but another thing would help – the MEDICAL license folks to yank the license to practice of the docs involved in procuring and administering banned substances. Of course, just like the sociopath riders, you’d still have to deal with horse doctors or guys with little training…but without the vast knowledge the dope tests are tougher to beat.

  8. Your analysis is fine except for your remark

    What it means for Armstrong
    It’s another legal setback for Lance Armstrong but in reality it’s merely a hit to his image, nothing more with the judge saying if he’s innocent then he’s got little to fear in an arbitration hearing. If anything his lawyers come out of this the worse, picking fights they weren’t going to win and seemingly making some mistakes along the way.

    To the contrary, had the judge ruled in Armstrong’s favor, LA would be off the hook. This is a huge blow to Armstrong. He lost his shot at ending this in one fell swoop.

    From what I have seen of the ruling, Sparks did a decent job:

    -Completely dismisses LA suit against USADA so LA is still under the gun from USADA and arbitration
    -Scolds USADA for not doing a better job of outlining the case against LA in their charging docs but indicates that USADA can do a better job of this before arbitration begins and thus provide fair arbitration
    -Expresses incredulity about the messed-up situation between the 3 governing bodies involved (USADA, UCI, USA Cycling) but indicates that it is not the job of a US court to intervene

    LA loses this one big.

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