Belgian cycling federation president says there’s no investigation into Johan Bruyneel for now
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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Belgian cycling federation president says there’s no investigation into Johan Bruyneel for now

by Shane Stokes at 9:12 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Tom Van Damme states federation can’t move until it is given evidence, but USADA claims jurisdiction

Johan BruyneelOne day after it was confirmed that USADA had opened a case against six individuals including Johan Bruyneel, the RadioShack Nissan manager and former US Postal Service chief, accusing them of running a major doping conspiracy between 1998 and 2011, the Belgian cycling federation has said that it cannot act at this point in time.

Speaking to VeloNation, the president of the Royale League Vélocipédique Belge Tom Van Damme has given the federation’s position on the matter. “For the moment we will do nothing, as the only information we have got is from the press and the media, and a press release from the UCI. That press release confirms the USADA case, but there is not a mention of the name of a Belgian cyclist or a sport director in it. We have asked if the UCI would give us more information.”

Yesterday’s press release from the UCI avoided mentioning names, but referred to a communication from USADA on the subject. The fifteen page charge letter was later released by the Wall Street Journal, making clear that Bruyneel was a central figure in the investigation.

USADA’s communication, which was sent to Bruyneel via the RadioShack Nissan team address in Luxembourg, laid out specific charges against the Belgian. It said that he was being charged with:

(1) Possession of prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment (such as needles, blood bags, storage containers and other transfiision equipment and blood parameters measuring devices), testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids, and masking agents, as described
in more detail above.

(2) Trafficking of EPO, blood transfilsions, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids and masking agents as described in more detail above.

(3) Administration and/or attempted administration of EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids, and masking agents as described in more detail above.

(4) Assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicit); involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti—doping rule violations.

(5) Aggravating circumstances justifying a period of ineligibility greater than the standard sanction.

The letter then listed a range of specific rules which banned the conduct mentioned above.

Explaining its charges, USADA gave details of some of the evidence it had gathered, with witness testimony being cited. It stated:

With respect to Mr. Bruyneel, numerous riders will testify that Mr. Bruyneel gave to them and/or encouraged them to use doping products and/or prohibited methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, hGH and cortisone during the period from 1999 through 2007. Riders and other witnesses will also testify that Bruyneel worked actively to conceal rule violations by himself and others throughout the period from 1999 through the present.

In May 2010 details emerged about allegations made by Floyd Landis against some of the US Postal Service team setup, including Bruyneel. In response to that the UCI issued a statement saying that it would request all the national federations to look into the allegations.

Things appeared to stop there, with no conclusions being announced by the Belgian, American or Australian federations.

Van Damme was asked what had happened at the time. “We had contacts a lawyer who was looking into the case,” he replied. “He made some contacts [with those involved – ed.], but at that moment there was nothing that was able to put up [support] a case. Certainly not. You can’t go by rumours, you need legal background to act.” Asked if Bruyneel was questioned by the federation on the claims, he declined to answer. “That is confidential,” he replied.

As things stand right now, Bruyneel is scheduled to lead the RadioShack Nissan team at the Tour de France, guiding the riders and the staff there. Given the gravity of USADA’s charges, though, VeloNation asked the team today if it had a reaction to the procedure being opened. Its press officer Philippe Maertens said that RadioShack Nissan had no immediate comment.

The Tour de France starts in just over two weeks, but Van Damme appeared to rule out any suspension of the Belgian at this point in time. “If we get official information from an official authority like the UCI or like the American cycling federation, then we can eventually proceed, but before then we can’t do anything.

“USADA will firstly give it to the UCI, then it will eventually be given to us and we will of course examine it. Our legal department needs to see what will be done in such a case.”

However it is worth noting that the Belgian federation may not be the one to ultimately determine what happens to Bruyneel. The USADA letter of charges makes it clear that under the UCI’s anti-doping regulations, articles 10 and 13, that it considers that it has jurisdiction as it was the anti-doping organisation which discovered ‘elements that turned out to be evidence for facts that apparently constitute an anti-doping rule.’

As a result, whether or not the Belgian federation acts, Bruyneel’s future in the sport could be decided by USADA and its investigation.


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