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Lance Armstrong: sued for fraud by two readers

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Laurent Rebours/AP

(Read caption) Lance Armstrong recently appeared in an interview with talk show maven Oprah Winfrey and admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs.

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Adding to athlete Lance Armstrong’s troubles, two readers are suing him and the publishers of his books, Penguin Group and Random House. The readers are pursuing a class action lawsuit because they say the athlete, Penguin, and Random House all committed fraud and false representation by touting Armstrong’s memoirs as fact. The plaintiffs are Rob Stutzman, a public affairs adviser who worked with Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Jonathan Wheeler, a chef.

The complaint was filed on Jan. 22 in federal court in California, reading in part, “Throughout the book, Defendant Armstrong repeatedly denies that he ever used banned substances before or during his professional cycling career… [The books were bought] based upon the false belief that they were true and honest works of nonfiction when, in fact, Defendants knew or should have known that these books were works of fiction.” 

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Stutzman and Wheeler are represented in court by California and New Jersey-based law firms.

Representation for Armstrong had no comment, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Penguin published Armstrong’s memoir, “It’s Not About the Bike,” which was released in 2000. His book “Every Second Counts” was published by Random House in 2003.

The literary world saw a somewhat similar case when writer Greg Mortenson was sued for fabrications in his memoir, “Three Cups of Tea,” which detailed his work building schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. When significant pieces of Mortenson's story were discovered to be untrue, four readers sued Mortenson, his co-author David Oliver Relin, Mortenson’s school-building organization, and his publisher Penguin Group. However, the federal judge who took on the case in Montana dismissed the lawsuit. 

“The imprecise, in part flimsy, and speculative nature of the claims and theories advanced underscore the necessary conclusion that further amendment [of the complaint] would be futile,” US District Judge Sam Haddon said.