Photo Credit: PASCAL PAVANI/AFP/Getty Images
Nobody likes a liar, even if they loved his books.
On Tuesday, fans of Lance Armstrong's autobiographies, It's Not About the Bike and Every Second Counts, filed a class action lawsuit against the cyclist. Now that Armstrong has admitted to doping in order to win races (a claim he denied in both books), the two men spearheading the lawsuit argue that the athlete defrauded readers with his inspirational, half-true stories.
"Stutzman bought the book in California and read it cover to cover," the lawsuit says of political consultant Rob Stutzman, one of the plaintiffs. "Although Stutzman does not buy or read many books, he found Armstrong’s book incredibly compelling and recommended the book to several friends." Stutzman and other readers, the filing claims, "would not have purchased the books had they known the true facts concerning Armstrong’s misconduct and his admitted involvement in a sports doping scandal."
Armstrong isn't the first person to tell a blatant lie in his autobiography, nor will he be the last. (If publishers got sued every time a memoir told a half-truth, the entire genre would disappear.) But as silly as this lawsuit is, it was totally inevitable. People are furious with Lance Armstrong, who made us all believe he was a noble hero instead of a deceitful jerk. And when enough people are angry, lawyers tend to get involved.
Now that the first lawsuit has been filed, Armstrong should brace himself for the onslaught. Who will sue him next? Here are three people who may just demand their day in court.
The plaintiff: Sheryl Crow
The charge: Fraud
The singer-songwriter fell in love with "the world's greatest cyclist" in 2003. Would she have accepted his marriage proposal in 2005 if she'd known he was a big cheater? Can you retroactively annul an engagement? All she wanted to do was have some fun!
The plaintiff: Oprah Winfrey
The charge: Breach of contract
Sure, the Lance Armstrong interview gave her OWN network a major ratings boost. But only a fraction of the viewers tuned in for Part 2, after it became clear in Part 1 that Armstrong wasn't really apologizing. Where was the remorse? The James Frey-style fear in his eyes? He didn't even cry! Surely, there was a clause about that in his interview agreement.
The plaintiff: Edgar Allen Poe
The charge: Defamation of character
Armstrong's teammates testified that his "code word" for the performance-enhancing drug EPO was "Edgar Allen Poe." (Guess the folks from the International Cycling Union just thought Armstrong was really into "The Raven"?) While the 19th century author was an alcoholic and opium smoker, he most certainly did not use performance-enhancing drugs and no doubt would resent being associated with them. His estate will demand that the code word be changed to something more appropriate, like "Livestrong."
Obviously, we jest. The actual lawsuits will come from colleagues whose reputations he trashed, sporting organizations and sponsors he blatantly lied to, and possibly even the federal government. Everyone else will just have to get in line.