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Judge slams Armstrong's complaint

AUSTIN, TX (BRAIN) Monday July 9 2012 11:18 AM MT—A federal judge has rejected Lance Armstrong's suit against the U.S. Anti-doping Agency, which was filed Monday.

Armstrong had asked the court to order USADA to stop pursuing sanctions against him for alleged doping.

But U.S District Judge Sam Sparks did not mince words in dismissing the claim, saying Armstrong's attorney could re-submit an edited version.

"Armstrong's complaint is far from short, spanning eighty pages and containing 261 numbered paragraphs, many of which have multiple subparts. Worse, the bulk of these paragraphs contain "allegations" that are wholly irrelevant to Armstrong's claims and which, the Court must presume, were included solely to increase media coverage of this case, and to incite public opinion against Defendants," Sparks wrote in his order.

"Indeed, vast swaths of the complaint could be removed entirely, and most of the remaining paragraphs substantially reduced, without the loss of any legally relevant information," he said.

Sparks clarified that he was not ruling on the merits of Armstrong's case but on the size and nature of his complaint.

"Contrary to Armstrong's apparent belief, pleadings filed in the United States District Courts are not press releases, internet blogs, or pieces of investigative journalism."

Sparks left the door open for Armstrong to revise his complaint and re-submit it within 20 days.

"Armstrong is advised, in the strongest possible terms ... to omit any improper argument, rhetoric, or irrelevant material from his future pleadings," Sparks wrote.

Although it receives federal funds, USADA is an independent organization that has power to impose sports sanctions but not criminal or civil penalties. Any ruling from USADA can be appealed by either side to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport, the end of the line for sporting disputes.

However, Armstrong was looking to the civil judicial system to bring a stop to the proceedings. He asked the court for a restraining order barring USADA from continuing its process. He said his constitutional rights were violated, in part because he said USADA is using evidence gathered by a federal grand jury investigation last year, but he said he is not being provided with rights of due process regarding that evidence.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart said the organization is following accepted protocols and he's confident the court system will uphold the agency's legitimacy. 

"USADA was built by athletes on the principles of fairness and integrity. 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," Tygart said in a statement released to the media Monday.

Observers have noted that USADA is underpowered in this fight, however. The agency has an annual budget of about $10 million for drug testing and other expenses, and has one in-house attorney. Armstrong, meanwhile, has spent millions on his legal team during the federal investigation and the USADA probe.

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