After months of trouble, Lance Armstrong has finally something to cherish about. A federal judge in California sided with the former American professional road racing cyclist and the publishers of his autobiographies.
The federal judge rejected claims in a lawsuit that lies about not using performance enhancing drugs amounted to fraud and false advertising. This was after a group of readers who purchased "It's Not About The Bike" and "Every Second Counts" by Armstrong sued the cyclist and the publishers in Sacramento federal court seeking class-action status and more than $US5 million ($A5.40 million) in damages. The readers claimed they were duped to believe the books were inspirational true accounts and should have been labeled fiction.
In a 39-page ruling, US District Judge Morrison England sided with the attorneys of Lance Armstrong who argued the books are free speech protected by the First Amendment. Armstrong's attorney Zia Modabber said Armstrong has a right to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech. The plaintiffs by law have 21 days to refile their lawsuit under the guidelines of the ruling but the attorney of Armstrong predicted the ruling would close the door on the case. He added the fact that his client didn't tell the truth about whether or not he doped does not make the entire story of his life fiction.
The lawsuit was filed in California and accused Armstrong and publishers Random House and Penguin Group of committing fraud, false advertising, and other wrongdoing for publishing the vehement denials of the seven-time Tour de France winner that he was not a cheat. It was also claimed by the readers that the books should have been labeled as fiction instead of non-fiction.
In 2012, Armstrong was disqualified from his record seven consecutive Tour de France between 1999 and 2005 and banned from competitive cycling for life for doping offenses by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). Lance after vehemently denying doping for years finally admitted on Oprah Winfrey talk show that he used banned performance enhancing drugs such as EPO, blood doping, blood transfusions, cortisone, testosterone, and human growth hormone. He also remarked his ruthless desire to win at all costs served him well on the bike but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. The cyclist went on to remark that it was possible to win without doping in his generation and added he didn't invented the doping culture but he didn't try to stop the culture.
Sean Yates, one of six Britons to have led the Tour de France, recently praised Lance Armstrong and Chris Froome. He remarked he still believes Lance Armstrong is a phenomenal athlete and still the biggest engine ever to get on a bike, apart from maybe Chris Froome.
In another development, Armstrong has returned his Olympic bronze cycling medal which he won at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. In January this year, the International Olympic Committee vacated the medal Armstrong won in the road time trial. The medal was given by Mark Higgins, who has been a manager and spokesman for Armstrong for many years, to USOC chief executive officer Scott Blackmun at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.
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