Lance Armstrong's Suit to Block Doping Charges Dismissed by Judge
A federal judge handed Lance Armstrong a quick setback Monday as he went to court to save his seven Tour de France titles and his reputation as one of the greatest cyclists ever.
2009-2010 that are "fully consistent" with doping.
In a twist, Armstrong is arguing against rules that his personal manager, Bill Stapleton, helped draft when he was a board member of the U.S. Olympic Committee and served as the chairman of the athletes' advisory council.
Armstrong's representatives have said those rules were written to deal with cases of athletes facing positive drug tests and lab results, not a case like Armstrong's where the evidence is weighted toward anecdotal witness testimony.
Legal experts were divided on the strength of Armstrong's case.
"USADA is a unique agency, far from perfect ... but that doesn't necessarily means it's unconstitutional," said Michael McCann, director of the Sports Law Institute at Vermont Law School. "He makes some good points, but his chances for success are less than likely."
An Armstrong victory in court, however, could shake USADA to its core, said Michael Straubel, law professor and director of the Sports Law Clinic at Valparaiso University.
Straubel, who has represented athletes with doping cases before USADA, called Armstrong's lawsuit a "strong case" for greater protection for athletes.
"This is huge. It has tremendous implications for USADA. I really hope USADA thought all this through before it got things started," Straubel said.
To be successful on his constitutional claims, Armstrong must show that USADA is acting as a government agency. The lawsuit notes that USADA is mostly funded by the federal government and that some of the evidence against him was collected during the federal criminal investigation. On its website, however, USADA calls itself an independent agency.
USADA could ask the court to allow its arbitration process to go ahead, requiring Armstrong to raise his claims after a decision is made. But Armstrong predicts he can't win in a system stacked against him, and says he needs the court to step in now.
Also charged by USADA are former Armstrong team manager Johan Bruyneel and several team doctors and associates. None of them are included in Armstrong's lawsuit, but they could be affected by any legal decision because USADA consolidated their charges with Armstrong's.