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Readers sue Armstrong about drug-use denial in books

SAN FRANCISCO – An aide to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said he was so taken by Lance Armstrong’s first memoir of battling back from cancer to win the Tour de France multiple times that he immediately read it “cover to cover” and recommended it to several friends.

Now he wants his money back – and then some.

Rob Stutzman and several others who bought Armstrong’s “It’s Not About The Bike” and “Every Second Counts” have filed a lawsuit in Sacramento federal court. It alleges Armstrong duped them into believing the books were inspirational true accounts of the cyclist’s accomplishments done without performance-enhancing drugs.

The lawsuit accuses Armstrong and the books’ publishers of committing fraud, false advertising and other wrongdoing for publishing the cyclist’s vehement denials that he wasn’t a cheat.

Armstrong admitted to cheating throughout his career in a televised interview last week. His lawyer, Tim Herman, didn’t immediately respond to inquiries for comment Thursday.

The lawsuit seeks class-action status on behalf of all readers who felt misled by Armstrong’s denials of drug use in “It’s Not About The Bike,” published in 2000, and “Every Second Counts,” published three years later.

“Although Stutzman does not buy or read many books, he found Armstrong’s book incredibly compelling and recommended the book to several friends,” the lawsuit stated.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday said Stutzman met Armstrong when the cyclist visited with Schwarzenegger.

At that time, Stutzman thanked Defendant Armstrong for writing his book and told him it was very inspiring and that he had recommended it to friends who were fighting cancer,” the suit said. “In response, Armstrong thanked Stutzman.”

At least two authors have faced similar lawsuits when their supposed works of nonfiction were alleged to contain fabrications.

James Frey, author of “A Million Little Pieces,” and his publisher settled a class-action lawsuit in 2006 alleging he made up parts of his best-selling memoir by offering to refund the cost of the book.

In April, a federal judge in Montana tossed out a lawsuit alleging fraud filed against “Three Cups of Tea” author Greg Mortenson as imprecise, flimsy and speculative.

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