A federal judge has ruled in favor of Lance Armstrong, who is being sued by a group of people who purchased his books. They claim Armstrong committed fraud by writing that his successes were the result of hard work and perseverance, and not enough PEDs to send even the gentle dugong on a murderous rampage.
Armstrong's facing a handful of suits, with varying prospects. Last month he settled with the Sunday Times, which was suing to collect a defamation settlement he won in 2006. A case brought by an insurance company seeking a return of the $7.5 million in bonus money it paid him is still pending.
But this one might have been the most fascinating. The plaintiffs were seeking refunds and $5 million in damages, claiming Armstrong's lengthy doping denials in the books constituted fraud. "He cheated on bike races to sell books, and he published the books in order to cover up the cheating," their attorney said.
The judge didn't buy it.
"The Court concludes, despite plaintiffs' allegations that the Armstrong books contained false and misleading statements, that the content of the books is afforded full First Amendment protection," England wrote.
At issue wasn't whether Armstrong lied—autobiographical lies are precisely as old as the autobiography. Instead the question was whether those lies are protected free speech, or non-protected commercial speech, as the plaintiffs argued, claiming they wouldn't have bought his books otherwise. Which is sort of ludicrous. Had Armstrong written extensively and honestly about his doping instead of the power of believing in yourself, he would have sold a billion copies.
Judge supports Lance Armstrong's right to lie [USA Today]