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Judge puts brakes on Lance Armstrong lawsuit

Lance Armstrong looks back on the podium after

Lance Armstrong looks back on the podium after the 20th and last stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France. (July 25, 2010) Credit: AP

AUSTIN, Texas -- A federal judge has dismissed Lance Armstrong's lawsuit against the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but says the cyclist can refile it within 20 days.

The seven-time Tour de France champion sued USADA Monday in an attempt to prevent it from moving forward with charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout much of his career.

U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled just hours later. He criticized Armstrong's attorneys for filing an 80-page complaint the judge says seems more intended to whip up public opinion for his case than focus on the legal argument.

Sparks, however, did not decide on the merits of Armstrong's case and said he can refile his lawsuit.

Armstrong wanted Sparks to rule in his favor by Saturday, the deadline he faces to either accept sanctions from USADA or go to arbitration.

Armstrong's lawsuit said USADA rules violate athletes' constitutional right to a fair trial, and the agency doesn't have jurisdiction in his case.

It also accused USADA chief executive Travis Tygart of waging a personal vendetta against the cancer survivor, who won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005.

The lawsuit was an aggressive, and expected, move as Armstrong seeks to preserve his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists ever and an inspiring advocate for cancer survivors and research.

If found guilty, Armstrong could receive a lifetime ban from cycling and be stripped of his Tour de France victories. Armstrong insists he is innocent.

USADA, created in 2000 and recognized by Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic sports in the United States, formally charged Armstrong in June with taking performance-enhancing drugs and participating in a vast doping conspiracy on his Tour de France winning teams, some of which were sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.

The charges came after a two-year federal criminal investigation into doping allegations against Armstrong ended in February with no charges filed against him.

The anti-doping agency says up to 10 former teammates and associates are willing to testify against him and that it has blood samples from 2009 to 2010 that are "fully consistent" with doping.

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