AUSTIN, Texas — With Lance Armstrong digging in for a legal fight, the US Anti-Doping Agency issued lifetime sports bans Tuesday to three former staff members and consultants on the cyclist’s winning Tour de France teams for drug violations.
Luis Garcia del Moral was a team doctor; Michele Ferrari was a consulting doctor; and Jose ‘‘Pepe’’ Marti (team trainer) worked for Armstrong’s US Postal Service and Discovery Channel squads. All had been accused by USADA of participating in a vast doping conspiracy on those teams during part or all of Armstrong’s seven Tour victories from 1999-2005.
Armstrong also has been charged and has declared his innocence.
Several hours after USADA announced its sanctions against the others, Armstrong’s attorneys refiled a lawsuit asking a federal judge in Austin to prevent the case against him from going forward.
US District Judge Sam Sparks had thrown out Armstrong’s initial 80-page complaint Monday, but invited him to submit a new one that was shorter, more to the point and less about his career and personal battles with anti-doping officials.
Armstrong’s attorneys refiled a 25-page suit arguing that USADA violates athletes’ constitutional rights, that the agency doesn’t have the jurisdiction to bring the charges and that it may have violated federal law in its investigation.
Armstrong wants the court to rule by Saturday, his deadline to either accept USADA’s charges and sanctions or send his case to arbitration.
An Armstrong spokesman declined immediate comment on the USADA bans issued Tuesday.
Under USADA rules, Moral, Marti and Ferrari had until Monday to challenge the allegations in arbitration or ask for a five-day extension. If they did not respond, USADA could impose sanctions.
Although none lives in the United States, USADA says the ban blocks them from participating in any sport that falls under the World Anti-Doping Agency code.
‘‘The respondents chose not to waste resources by moving forward with the arbitration process, which would only reveal what they already know to be the truth of their doping activity,’’ said Travis Tygart, chief executive of USADA.
There’s been no indication from USADA that any of the three men — who each received the agency’s maximum punishment — is cooperating with investigators.
Armstrong was granted his extension while he files his court case. Also charged and granted an extension was Armstrong’s former team manager, Johan Bruyneel.
Another team doctor, Pedro Celaya, also has been charged and faced the same Monday deadline.
. . .
Bradley Wiggins may have a firm grip on the yellow jersey after the first week of the Tour de France, but defending champion Cadel Evans isn’t so sure the British rider can keep up his relentless pace for the entire race without faltering.
Evans is nearly two minutes behind his main rival after losing time in Monday’s long time trial between Arc-et-Senans and Besancon in France’s eastern Doubs region, which Wiggins won to cap a flawless first week of racing.
But the Australian said Wiggins is still relatively untested in major races and is hoping his own experience will make the difference over the next two weeks, before the race ends in Paris on July 22.
‘‘If I was going to convince myself now he was unbeatable and unstoppable, well I might as well decide on second,’’ Evans said Tuesday during the Tour’s first rest day. ‘‘He doesn’t have much of a history over three weeks compared to someone like me.’’
Before triumphing on the Champs-Elysees last year, the 35-year-old Evans had twice finished second overall. Wiggins, achieved his best result on the Tour three years ago when he finished fourth.