Armstrong’s autobiography lies excused under ‘free speech,’ class action lawsuit dismissed
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Armstrong’s autobiography lies excused under ‘free speech,’ class action lawsuit dismissed

by Shane Stokes at 9:28 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Judge says US First Amendment means Armstrong didn’t have to tell the truth

Lance ArmstrongRuling that Lance Armstrong was effectively allowed to lie about racing clean due to the First Amendment, a Californian federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit taken by readers of his two autobiographies.

Armstrong built up his self image and gained many fans with his books “It's Not About The Bike” and “Every Second Counts,” co-written with Sally Jenkins. They told the story of his early years, his battle with cancer and his return to elite competition, all the while insisting that his victories were completely clean and he had never used doping products.

The books sold millions of copies, but his claim to have competed without drugs was shown to be false when he made an admission of long-term doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January of this year.

Several readers of the books took a class action lawsuit against Armstrong over those false claims, saying that Armstrong’s mistruths were tantamount to fraud and false advertising. They wanted the books relabelled fiction plus damages of more than than $US5 million.

However US District Judge Morrison England issued a 39 page ruling saying that Armstrong was effectively allowed to lie in his books.

“Lance Armstrong has a right to exercise his First Amendment right to free speech,” he said, according to AP. “The fact Lance didn't tell the truth about whether or not he doped, does not make the entire story of his life fiction.”

Those who took the action can appeal within the next 21 days, but the judge cast doubts on the chances of that succeeding.

The legal case is less of a concern to Armstrong than a Qui Tam lawsuit launched by Floyd Landis and joined by the federal government. It is based around claimed fraud by Armstrong and others in relation to the US Postal Service’s sponsorship of the team and if they lose, they could be liable to pay more than 100 million dollars in damages.

The Texan evaded detection for many years, but a US federal investigation and subsequent action by the US Anti Doping Agency finally led to him deciding not to contest the latter’s case against him. He was stripped of his seven Tour wins plus all other results since August 1st 1998, and also handed a lifetime ban.

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