Lance Armstrong, who admitted he used performance-enhancing drugs to win a record seven Tour de France titles, was sued by two California book buyers over claims he sold fiction as autobiography.
Rob Stutzman, a former communications adviser for Arnold Schwarzenegger, said in a complaint filed Jan. 22 in federal court in Sacramento that he wouldn’t have bought “It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life” had he known the truth about Armstrong’s misconduct and involvement with doping.
In the 2000 book and the 2003 follow-up, “Every Second Counts,” Armstrong denied ever having used banned substances and attributed his successes to “superior physical training, proper diet and an extraordinary spirit and drive to succeed,” Stutzman and co-plaintiff Jonathan Wheeler, a chef, said in the complaint.
The 41-year-old Armstrong, whose survival from testicular cancer helped create the largest athlete-founded charity in the U.S., was banned from competing in Olympic-level sports for life in October after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency published a report that said it found proof he engaged in serial cheating though the use, administration and trafficking of testosterone, erythropoietin and blood transfusions.
Armstrong admitted to cheating in an interview with Oprah Winfrey broadcast last week.
“Both books have now been exposed as frauds,” the plaintiffs said. “Armstrong now admits that without his use of banned performance enhancing drugs beginning in the mid-1990’s, he would not have won and continued to win cycling races, including seven consecutive Tour de France races.”
Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for Armstrong, had no immediate comment on the lawsuit.
Stutzman met Armstrong privately in 2005 and told him “It’s Not About the Bike” was inspiring and that he had recommended the book to friends who were fighting cancer, according to the complaint.
The two plaintiffs seek to represent other California buyers of Armstrong’s books to recover unspecified damages against Armstrong and Penguin Group (USA) Inc., the publisher of “It’s Not About the Bike,” and against Random House Inc., the publisher of “Every Second Counts.”
They accuse Armstrong and the publishers of marketing the books as “true and honest” works of nonfiction and allege they violated California laws against unfair competition and false advertising, among other allegations.
Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House in New York, declined to comment on the allegations. Erica Glass, a Penguin spokeswoman, didn’t immediately return a call to her office.
The case is Stutzman v. Armstrong, 13-00116, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of California (Sacramento.)