Armstrong request “without legal foundation”

A French court has turned down a request by Lance Armstrong's lawyers to include a formal denial of

A French court has turned down a request by Lance Armstrong’s lawyers to include a formal denial of

Lance Armstrong has received an early set-back in his legal battle with the authors and publishers of “LA Confidential – the secrets of Lance Armstrong”, which was published in France last week. A French judge yesterday threw out a request by Armstrong’s French lawyer to force the publisher of “LA Confidential”, Editions de La Martinire, to include in every copy of the book a formal denial by Armstrong of the book’s allegations. The magistrate deemed that Armstrong’s proposal, if accepted, “would clearly violate the respective rights,” of the authors and the editor. While the allegations made by the co-authors David Walsh and Pierre Ballester didn’t, the judge agreed, flatter Armstrong, the eight passages which the American and his French lawyers contest “didn’t necessarily constitute a defamation.” He concluded that the request Armstrong’s lawyer, Christian Charrire-Bournazel, submitted on Friday, was “without legal foundation, unjustified in substance.[and] represented an abuse of procedure.” Armstrong was ordered to pay Editions de La Martinire, David Walsh and Pierre Ballester each a symbolic euro and 1500 euros to cover court expenses. “This decision preserves the right of journalists to engage in serious investigations, and reminds us that a person who is object of such an investigation cannot use his refusal to answer questions to have a judge impose censure,” commented Arnault de Montbrial, the lawyer representing Editions de La Martinire. One of the book’s co-authors, Pierre Ballester, welcomed the ruling as “confirmation that the judge considers this is a question of investigative journalism and not sensationalism”. Meanwhile, Armstrong’s legal team had already lodged an appeal. “I’m very upset and I don’t share the opinion of the court. My client was not seeking the withdrawal of the book, just to provide readers with Mr Armstrong’s written denial of the most serious allegations,” Charrire-Bournazel told AFP. As a result of yesterday’s ruling, “LA Confidential – the secrets of Lance Armstrong”, continues to enjoy a prominent position on French bookshelves in its original, unaltered and unadulterated form. The book, 384 pages long and costing 20 euros, has so far received a mixed reception, with its accuracy and conception – more than the extent and nature of its allegations – coming in for criticism. “LA Confidential” is thought likely to be published in the UK on July 3, pending further legal action by Armstrong at the High Court in London. It bears reiterating that Armstrong continues to deny ever having used performance-enhancing drugs. In related news, Armstrong was yesterday selected alongside Tyler Hamilton, Bobby Julich, George Hincapie and Jason McCarthy for the U.S.A team at the Athens Olympics. The Texan is now back in Europe after last week’s appearance in Washington D.C. to unveil The Discovery Channel as his team sponsor for the 2005 season. Finally, and returning to the hotbed of current affairs which is cycling literature, it has been announced that Armstrong’s eternal Tour rival, Jan Ullrich, will unveil his autobiography in Cologne on Thursday. The 280 page memoir, ghost-written by Hagen Boádorf, is entitled “All or nothing at all.”