Lance Armstrong sued for fraud over book fabrications
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Two California men have sued Lance Armstrong and his book publishers for fraud and false advertising, claiming that the cyclist's best-selling memoirs, billed as non-fiction, were revealed to be filled with lies after he confessed last week to systematic doping.
The class-action complaint was filed in federal court in Sacramento, California on Tuesday, five days after Armstrong ended years of vehement denial and admitted in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had cheated his way to a record seven Tour de France titles through the use of banned, performance-enhancing drugs.
The named plaintiffs in the suit were Rob Stutzman, a public relations executive who served as a deputy chief of staff for former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jonathan Wheeler, a chef and amateur cyclist.
They said they bought the books "It's Not About the Bike" and "Every Second Counts" because they believed in Armstrong and his story of returning without drug assistance to the Tour de France after a nearly fatal bout with testicular cancer.
Following Armstrong's doping confession, however, Stutzman and Wheeler said they felt "duped," "cheated" and "betrayed" by the realization that the books, marketed as inspirational true-life memoirs, were replete with fabrications.
Their lawsuit accuses Armstrong and his publishers, Penguin and Random House, of violating consumer protection laws on false advertising and fraud by selling the books as works of non-fiction.
Lawyers for the purported class of Armstrong book buyers say readers are entitled to restitution and possibly statutory and punitive damages for deceptions. They say the publishers should have detected these, even though Armstrong passed drug screenings for various international cycling competitions.
A similar lawsuit was filed in 2011 against Greg Mortenson, co-author of the best seller "Three Cups of Tea," accusing him of fabricating much of his story about promoting education for impoverished girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.