(NEW YORK) — Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong says the nation’s doping police have no right to go after him for allegedly juicing his way to the top.
That is essentially what a federal lawsuit, filed in the western district of Texas states — while trying to shut down the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency case against Armstrong. Armstrong’s lawsuit claims USADA doesn’t have jurisdiction in his case and it accuses the agency’s CEO, Travis Tygart, of waging a personal vendetta against Armstrong.
The stakes are huge for Armstrong and the clock is ticking. If he doesn’t respond to charges by Saturday, July 14 — and ask for an arbitration hearing to fight the accusations — a lifetime ban will go into place, and he could face the loss of his Tour de France titles. If he does go forward with the proposed hearing, USADA plans to put at least 10 former teammates under oath with detailed allegations that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs and strongly encouraged others on his team to do the same.
Neither scenario is particularly attractive for Armstrong’s legal team, which argues that former teammates have been coerced into testifying against the Tour champ. This lawsuit seeks to slow the case down and or do away with it altogether.
The Armstrong lawsuit calls USADA a “kangaroo court.” It states “the process [USADA] seeks to force upon Lance Armstrong is not a fair process and truth is not its goal.” The lawsuit also claims the agency “would strip Mr. Armstrong of his livelihood, his seven Tour de France titles and the many other honors he has won.”
Sources close to the Armstrong investigation say the real goal here is to try to bankrupt USADA by tying it up with expensive litigation while at the same time putting the agency on trial. “This is the route hardcore dopers always take. They play by their own set of rules,” said one source.
USADA has dealt with similar litigation with other athletes and expected this move. Officials wouldn’t comment on the Armstrong filing, but issued a brief statement from CEO Travis Tygart, saying in part, “Like previous lawsuits aimed at concealing the truth, this lawsuit is without merit and we are confident the courts will continue to uphold the established rules which provide full constitutional due process and are designed to protect the rights of clean athletes and the integrity of sport.”
In the meantime, Armstrong’s former coach and team doctors, who are also facing USADA charges, have remained largely quiet. They have until Monday night to respond to their own charges or face sanctions, which could include a lifetime ban from participating in the sport.
Armstrong, who has previously called the charges against him a “vendetta,” refused to comment on the case his lawyers filed Monday.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
AJ Willingham, CNN
Melissa Stern, WDAF
Steve Visser, CNN