Armstrong re-files federal lawsuit requesting USADA injunction
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (AFP) — Lance Armstrong refiled a federal lawsuit Tuesday against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), hours after the group issued lifetime bans against three of his former cycling associates.
Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion, wants a federal judge to issue a temporary injunction against USADA pushing forward against him with charges he was part of a major doping conspiracy. USADA issued lifetime bans as part of the conspiracy to former U.S. Postal Service doctor Luis Garcia del Moral, Armstrong’s personal trainer and team consultant Michele Ferrari and coach “Pepe” Marti for what USADA termed “systematic doping within the team” during Armstrong’s run of Tour de France crowns from 1999 to 2005 and his comeback in 2009 and 2010.
“Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition,” said USADA chief executive officer Travis T. Tygart.
This trio is part of the group of six, including Armstrong, who USADA accused in June of being part of the doping conspiracy. Another doctor, Pedro Celaya, who is presently team doctor to the RadioShack-Nissan team, and team manager Johan Bruyneel are also accused of being involved.
Bruyneel has denied any wrongdoing.
Armstrong has steadfastly denied taking performance-enhancing drugs, citing the fact he has never tested positive in a drug test.
Armstrong had filed a lawsuit on Monday in U.S. District Court in his hometown of Austin, Texas, but U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the 80-page suit without ruling on the merits of the case, saying it seemed more of a public relations move than a court case.
The refiled version, only 25 pages, claims USADA lacks jurisdiction in the matter, saying the International Cycling Union (UCI) should press such cases, and that the system USADA uses to judge doping challenges by athletes violates the U.S. Constitution.
USADA could strip Armstrong of his seven Tour de France titles and impose a lifetime ban on him if he is found guilty of the charges USADA has brought.
The moves come four months after a two-year U.S. government probe into Armstrong ended with no criminal charges filed.
Armstrong, who has retired from cycling but was competing in Ironman triathlon events before USADA’s charges foiled that plan, has until Saturday to answer the charges unless the courts issue an injunction against USADA.
The next step would be a hearing before a three-person arbitration panel where Armstrong could present witnesses and challenge evidence.
The losing side would almost certainly appeal with the final decision likely to come from the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
USADA on Tuesday imposed punishments on three of its accused conspirators and said they chose not to fight the sanctions.
“The respondents chose not to waste resources by moving forward with the arbitration process, which would only reveal what they already know to be the truth of their doping activity,” Tygart said.
“When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth.”
There was no indication from USADA that Italy’s Ferrari or Spaniards Marti and Del Moral have cooperated with USADA in its investigation. Nor did USADA detail its evidence against the three or how it was obtained. USADA says its evidence shows all three possessed, trafficked in and administered or attempted to administer performance-enhancing drugs and assisted others in a conspiracy involving such substances.