(CNN) -- The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Friday that it has filed doping charges against champion cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Earlier this month, USADA announced it was opening proceedings against Armstrong and five former teammates.
"USADA can confirm that the independent three person Anti-Doping Review Board (ADRB) has conducted a full evaluation and has made a unanimous recommendation to move forward with the adjudication process in accordance with the rules," it said in a statement.
If Armstrong and the others so choose, the case will move next to an arbitration panel, where "all evidence would be presented, witness testimony would be given under oath, and an independent group of arbitrators would ultimately decide the outcome of the case," USADA said.
Armstrong has always insisted he never took performance-enhancing drugs. Other riders accused him of using such drugs, but he has never failed a drug test.
When the proceedings were announced this month, Armstrong said the Anti-Doping Agency intended to "dredge up discredited" allegations against him in a bid to strip him of his seven Tour de France victories.
"Unlike many of my accusers, I have competed as an endurance athlete for 25 years with no spike in performance, passed more than 500 drug tests and never failed one," Armstrong said on his website then. "That USADA ignores this fundamental distinction and charges me instead of the admitted dopers says far more about USADA, its lack of fairness and this vendetta than it does about my guilt or innocence."
Justice Department prosecutors in February said they closed a criminal investigation after reviewing allegations against Armstrong. They had called witnesses to a federal grand jury in Los Angeles, but they apparently determined they lacked evidence to bring a charge that Armstrong used performance-enhancing drugs.