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Judge dismisses most of personal assistant’s claims against Lance Armstrong

Claire Osborn, American Statesman Staff

Claim about whether Armstrong owes assistant $300,000 is still pending

A district judge on Friday dismissed the breach of contract and fraud claims against Lance Armstrong by a former personal assistant.

Judge Margaret Cooper of the 353rd District Court, however, did not dismiss the claim that cycling champion Armstrong owed his former assistant, Mike Anderson, $300,000 for two years of work that he did beyond his duties as a bike mechanic.

The judge also did not dismiss Anderson’s claim that Armstrong, the seven-time Tour de France champion, had libeled him by telling other people that Anderson had stolen items, said one of Anderson’s lawyers, Hal Gillespie.

Gillespie said he planned to appeal the rulings against the breach of contract and fraud. Sean Breen, one of Armstrong’s attorneys, said he hopes to get all the claims against Armstrong dismissed.

“From the moment Anderson made his exorbitant demand, Lance has insisted that Anderson’s claims were meritless and not true,” Breen said. “While it would have been much less expensive, less intrusive and less public to have simply paid some amount of money to avoid dealing with these claims, Armstrong refused to do so.”

Meanwhile, the International Cycling Union said Friday it had not received enough information to make a judgment on allegations Armstrong tested positive for the banned performance-enhancing drug EPO while winning the 1999 Tour de France.

In an unsigned statement on its Web site, the international governing body, known as UCI, criticized LEquipe, the French newspaper that made the allegations, for targeting Armstrong. It also criticized World Anti-Doping Agency Chairman Richard Pound for making public statements about the likely guilt of an athlete on the basis of a newspaper article and without all the facts being known.

The August 23 LEquipe published documents the newspaper said showed six of the urine samples Armstrong gave during the 1999 Tour were positive for EPO after being unfrozen and retested in 2004. The Tour did not test for EPO, used to boost oxygen-carrying capacity, until 2001.

Citing concerns about the impact of the case on the integrity of drug testing, the UCI statement said the organization was seeking answers to a number of questions, including how and why confidential information was leaked to the news media.

“I’m pleased the UCI is investigating this entire matter thoroughly because any professional investigation will reveal that the allegations made by a French sports tabloid have no basis because I never used any performance-enhancing drugs,” Armstrong said in a statement. “Based on the translation I read of the press release, I’m pleased that the UCI seems to be asking many of the right questions.”

The UCI said it also wanted to know who had authorized the retesting done at Chatenay-Malabry, the World Anti-Doping Agency-accredited lab where the samples originally had been tested for other substances, then frozen and stored. The UCI also asked how such retesting, reportedly for research purposes, could have been done without the consent of the riders involved.

Anderson had claimed that Armstrong owed him and his wife $500,000, a signed Tour de France jersey and future endorsements after Armstrong fired him in November 2004, according to his lawsuit. Anderson based those claims upon an e-mail that included an alleged employment contract, the lawsuit said.

Armstrong said no contract ever existed and Anderson was an at-will employee who according to Texas law could be fired at any time as long as the reason was not discriminatory.

Armstrong owes Anderson more than he paid him each year, Gillespie said.

“[Anderson] did the job of three or four different people,” Gillespie said. “He was not just a bike mechanic, he was personal assistant, a property manager, a protection provider and a driver.”

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