U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks has granted the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency and its CEO Travis Tygart’s motion to dismiss cyclist Lance Armstrong’s complaint against the two.
According to Sparks’ Aug. 20 order, “USADA has charged Armstrong with violating various anti-doping rules, and given him the option of either contesting the charges through arbitration or accepting sanctions. . . .”
The order continues, “In this lawsuit, Armstrong challenges USADA's authority to bring such charges against him, disputes he has a valid agreement to arbitrate such matters with USADA, and alleges USADA's charging and arbitration procedures violate his due process rights. Armstrong seeks monetary, declaratory, and injunctive relief.”
In Armstrong’s July 9 82-page complaint he also denied the doping allegations and argued the charges were not supported by a positive drug test.
In public statements USADA and Tygart denied Armstrong’s allegations. But within hours, Sparks had issued an order dismissing Armstrong's complaint without prejudice allowing Armstrong to re-file within 20 days. Sparks described Armstrong's complaint as "excessive" in its "rhetoric," and the judge wrote that "the Court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong's desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement. . . ."
On July 10, Armstrong filed a 25-page amended complaint. In a statement to the press on July 10, USADA and Tygart denied Armstrong’s allegations, and on July 19 they filed a motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction.
In the Aug. 20 order, Sparks concludes that Armstrong's due process claims lack merit. He also concludes he “lacks jurisdiction over Armstrong's remaining claims, or alternatively declines to grant equitable relief on those claims.” Sparks writes: “[W]hat is certain is that this Court cannot interfere, contrary to both the will of Congress and Armstrong's agreement to arbitrate, on the basis of a speculative injury. Armstrong's claims are therefore dismissed.”
Sean E. Breen, a partner in Austin's Howry Breen & Herman who represents Armstrong, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.
Matthew C. Powers, a partner in Graves Dougherty in Austin, represents the USADA and Tygart. He refers all questions to Annie Skinner, media relations manager for USADA.
Skinner emailed the following statement from Tygart: “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. 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 Mr. 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.”
-- Miriam Rozen