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Judge sides with Armstrong in book lawsuit

ESPN staff
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Lance Armstrong admitted to doping during an interview with Oprah Winfrey © Getty Images
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A group of readers who sued Lance Armstrong, his associates and his publishers for what turned out to be false content in his books have lost their case in a California court.

US District Judge Morrison England sided with Armstrong and the defendants who claimed that they were protected under the First Amendment. In the decision, England said that Armstrong's freedom of speech rights superceded the case brought by the plaintiffs, who claimed that Armstrong's misrepresentations in five of his books, including Armstrong's biographies It's Not About The Bike and Every Second Counts, were deceitful and fraudulent under California's consumer protection laws.

The plaintiffs, who were seeking more than £3 million in damages, can either file an appeal with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals or refile their lawsuit if they amend their claims to more successfully argue against Armstrong's First Amendment rights.

"In my view, they can appeal or file this case again, but they'll have the same result every time," Armstrong's lawyer Zia Modabber told ESPN.

Aside from Armstrong, defendants included his publishers Random House and Penguin, his agent Bill Stapleton and the money man behind his team, Thomas Weisel.

Armstrong's admission of using performance-enhancing drugs in an interview with Oprah Winfrey in January triggered several lawsuits. Armstrong recently settled a case brought by the Sunday Times, who sought to recover the £300,000 they paid Armstrong to settle a libel case in 2006. Once Armstrong admitted to what the article alleged, that he used performance-enhancing drugs, it was understood that the cyclist would have to pay the money back. The settlement amount was undisclosed.

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