A US judge has refused to dismiss the government's lawsuit against disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong and associates for alleged doping and use of banned performance-enhancing techniques.
From 1999 to 2004, Armstrong was the lead rider on a team sponsored by the US Postal Service, and he won the Tour de France every year during that period.
On Thursday, Judge Robert Wilkins ruled in favor of the government's position that Armstrong and associates owed an obligation to pay money due to the alleged breach of the sponsorship agreements with the Postal Service.
The Postal Service paid about $40 million to be the title sponsor of Armstrong's teams for six of his seven Tour de France victories.
The judge said the government's complaints are rife with allegations that Armstrong had knowledge of the doping and that he made false statements to conceal it.
The Justice Department says the cyclist violated his contract with the US Postal Service and was "unjustly enriched" while cheating to win the Tour.
The Justice Department stepped into the case last year, joining a whistleblower lawsuit brought by former Armstrong teammate Floyd Landis under the federal False Claims Act.
Wilkins, a newly appointed appeals judge for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is sitting as a US district judge in the lawsuit against Armstrong.