- Associated Press - Monday, July 9, 2012

AUSTIN, TEXAS | A federal judge handed Lance Armstrong a quick setback Monday as he went to court to save his seven Tour de France titles and his reputation as one of the greatest cyclists ever.

Armstrong filed a lawsuit aimed at preventing the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency from moving ahead with charges that he used performance-enhancing drugs throughout much of his long career.

But within hours, U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the 80-page complaint. He said it seemed more intended to whip up public opinion in Armstrong’s favor than focus on the legal argument.

Sparks, however, did not rule on the merits of Armstrong’s claims and will let him refile the lawsuit. Armstrong attorney Tim Herman said he could do that as early as Tuesday.

The suit claimed USADA rules violate athletes’ constitutional right to a fair trial and that the agency doesn’t have jurisdiction in Armstrong’s case. It also accuses USADA’s chief executive, Travis Tygart, of waging a vendetta against the cancer survivor who won the Tour de France every year from 1999 to 2005.

The judge was not impressed.

This Court is not inclined to indulge Armstrong’s desire for publicity, self-aggrandizement or vilification of Defendants, by sifting through eighty mostly unnecessary pages in search of the few kernels of factual material relevant to his claims,” Sparks wrote.

Herman said he got the message.

“When [Sparks] speaks, I listen,” he said. “It doesn’t change the legal issues involved or any of the relief that we seek. I certainly heard what Judge Sparks said. I intend to conform my conduct precisely.”

The lawsuit was an aggressive, and expected, move as Armstrong seeks to preserve his racing legacy and his place as an advocate for cancer survivors and research. He wants Sparks to bar USADA from pursuing its case or issuing any sanctions against him.

Armstrong asked the court to issue an injunction by Saturday, his deadline to formally challenge the case against him in USADA’s arbitration process or accept the agency’s sanctions. He could receive a lifetime ban from cycling and be stripped of his Tour de France victories if found guilty. He originally faced a Monday deadline but USADA allows athletes to request an automatic five-day extension.

Armstrong insists he is innocent.