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Lawsuit claims Lance Armstrong's books constituted deception

SACRAMENTO — Lance Armstrong's books were billed as the inspirational story of an athlete who bounced back from cancer to become the world's best cyclist — without using banned substances.

Now everyone knows Armstrong's story was not the truth, and some customers want their money back.

Two Sacramento County residents, Republican political consultant Rob Stutzman and professional chef Jonathan Wheeler, are spearheading a class-action lawsuit against Armstrong and his publishers, claiming they were deceived.

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in Sacramento, said the plaintiffs "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."

The case could involve more than 100 plaintiffs, according to the lawsuit.

In the books, Armstrong denied that he used banned substances to win the Tour de France. But last week he admitted in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had, in fact, done so.

Also named in the suit are several publishers that produced the books, "It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life" in 2000 and "Every Second Counts" in 2003.

Stutzman and Wheeler are being represented by law firms in California and New Jersey, and Tuesday's court filing lays out their grievances.

The lawsuit says Stutzman, who was an aide to former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, bought "It's Not About the Bike" and "read it cover to cover."

"Although Stutzman does not buy or read many books, he found Armstrong's book incredibly compelling and recommended the book to several friends," the suit says.

Wheeler is described in the filing as an avid cyclist who also bought Armstrong's first book. He was "so impressed," the court papers say, that he bought the athlete's next book as well.

chris.megerian@latimes.com

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