Posted: Jul 9, 2012 1:38 PM by CNN
Lance Armstrong, charged in June by the United States Anti-Doping Agency, filed a federal lawsuit Monday to halt the doping case against him.
Armstrong, a seven-time Tour de France champion who has returned to triathlon competitions, asked for the court to file an injunction against the USADA by Saturday, the agency's deadline for Armstrong to agree to contest the charges or accept sanctions.
In papers filed in a Texas district court, Armstrong, who maintains that he has never tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, said the USADA and its CEO, Travis Tygart, have no jurisdiction and are out to get a 'big fish" to justify the agency's existence.
"Defendants have charged Mr. Armstrong with unspecified doping violations and seek to try him through USADA's self-created, self-regulated and self-operated process that it has rigged to ensure that it cannot lose," the lawsuit says. "USADA's kangaroo court proceeding would violate due process even if USADA had jurisdiction to pursue its charges against Mr. Armstrong."
In June, the agency announced that it was opening proceedings against Armstrong and five former teammates. It released a statement in response to the lawsuit.
"USADA was built by athletes on the principles of fairness and integrity," Tygart said in the release. "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."
Mark Fabiani, an attorney for Armstrong, told CNN: "We're going to let our court papers speak for themselves."
Armstrong says the Union Cycliste Internationale, the international governing body of cycling, is the "only organization permitted to assess the evidence." He says he has taken at least 500 drug tests in his cycling career, never failing one.
Armstrong faces a lifetime ban and could be stripped of his Tour victories if found guilty by the USADA. Armstrong won the Tour each year from 1999 to 2005, most of those for a team sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. He retired twice from cycling, the first time in 2005 (for four years) and again in 2011.
According to its website, the USADA is a quasi-government agency recognized as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic, Pan American and Paralympic events in the United States.
The Washington Post reported in June that the agency sent Armstrong a 15-page letter outlining the charges.
In the letter, a copy of which was obtained by CNN, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said it collected blood samples from Armstrong in 2009 and 2010 that were "fully consistent with blood manipulation including EPO use and/or blood transfusions."
EPO, or erythropoietin, boosts the number of blood cells.
The letter said Armstrong and five former cycling team associates engaged in a doping conspiracy from 1998 to 2011. If there is a hearing, riders will testify that Armstrong used EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and masking agents, and that he distributed and administered drugs to other cyclists from 1998 to 2005, according to the letter.
Armstrong has been dogged by allegations of drug abuse in recent years, with compatriot Floyd Landis -- who was found guilty of doping in the 2006 Tour de France, resulting in him being stripped of the title -- making a series of claims last year.
Armstrong came out fighting once again in May 2011 in the face of fresh allegations made on the CBS News' "60 Minutes" show by another American, Tyler Hamilton.
In the CBS interview, Hamilton, who retired in 2009 after twice testing positive himself, says he first saw Armstrong use EPO in 1999.
"I saw it in his refrigerator," Hamilton told the news program. "I saw him inject it more than one time like we all did, like I did many, many times."
In February, Justice Department prosecutors said they closed a criminal investigation after reviewing allegations against Armstrong. They had called witnesses to a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, but they apparently determined they lacked evidence to bring a charge that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.
Armstrong, 40, has won two half-distance Ironman events this year, and he is suspended from World Triathlon Corporation competitions. The world championships will be held in October in Hawaii.
Armstrong, who was a U.S. triathlon champion as a teenager, lives in Austin, Texas.