Austin - The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) has given Lance Armstrong a 30-day extension to contest the doping conspiracy charges against him while he pursues a lawsuit against USADA.
Armstrong has filed a lawsuit in US District Court in his hometown of Austin, Texas, asking a federal judge to issue an injunction against USADA from pushing forward with its charges or imposing any sanction upon the US cyclist.
The seven-time Tour de France champion could be stripped of his titles and given a lifetime ban from the sport if found guilty of being part of a doping conspiracy from 1999 through 2005, the years he won the Tour de France.
"USADA has granted Mr. Armstrong a brief extension of up to 30 days to contest the doping charges until the court dismisses the lawsuit or rules on any preliminary injunction," USADA chief executive Travis Tygart said.
"USADA believes this lawsuit, like previous lawsuits aimed at concealing the truth, is without merit and is confident the court will continue to uphold the established rules which are compliant with federal law and were approved by athletes, the US Olympic Committee and all Olympic sports organizations."
Armstrong has accused Tygart of having a vendetta against him and argues in the lawsuit that only the International Cycling Union, not USADA, has the jurisdiction to bring such charges against Armstrong.
Armstrong, who has also complained about not having access to USADA's evidence gathered in supporting the charges, also argues the USADA method of finding a verdict in doping cases violates his US constitutional rights.
USADA's next step would be to conduct a formal hearing involving a three-member arbitration panel to hear the evidence.
Armstrong and his lawyers would have access to the evidence to build their defence case before the hearing, which would come by the end of the year.
With the side that loses the arbitration panel ruling likely to appeal, the final decision on the matter could come from the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
On Tuesday, USADA imposed life bans upon three of six people accused in the Armstrong conspiracy - former US Postal team doctor Luis del Moral, trainer and fellow Spaniard "Pepe" Marti and Italian physical trainer Michele Ferrari.
In addition to Armstrong, physician Pedro Celaya and team director Johan Bruyneel face doping conspiracy charges. USADA said Bruyneel has received an extension until Saturday to submit a reply to the charges he faces.