USADA investigation: No Tour de France for Bruyneel
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Friday, June 22, 2012

USADA investigation: No Tour de France for Bruyneel

by Shane Stokes at 3:00 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
Belgian stands aside after thirteen years of managing a team at the race

Johan BruyneelRadioShack Nissan manager Johan Bruyneel has announced that he will not take part in this year’s Tour de France, being absent from the race as a result of the USADA investigation into him.

The Belgian first managed a team there in 1999, the year Lance Armstrong first won the Tour, but will now stay at home. He announced the decision on his personal website.

“I’m sad to say that I’ve decided that for the first time in many years I will not be attending this year’s Tour de France. The story of the Tour should be the achievements of its riders and the thrill of our great sport,” he wrote. “I dearly wish to be there but my attendance in light of the recent USADA allegations against me would be an unwelcome distraction to my team, and to all those participating in and supporting the Tour.”

On June 13th it was confirmed that Bruyneel, Armstrong and four others were likely to face charges from USADA in relation to a range of doping-related matters. Also accused were doctors Michele Ferrari (Italy), Pedro Celaya (Luxembourg, who currently works with Team RadioShack), Luis Garcia del Moral (Spain) and the Spanish trainer Pepe Marti, who has also coached Alberto Contador

The USADA letter was printed by the Wall Street Journal, having been leaked to it by an unidentified person. USADA has told VeloNation that it was not the source; if so, one of the many recipients may have done so. In addition to going to the six accused, the communication was also sent to various federations and governing bodies.

According to that letter, Bruyneel was facing charges relating to five different areas, namely:

(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 transfusions, 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.

“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,” stated USADA’s letter. “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.”

The matter arose after former USPS rider Floyd Landis made a series of allegations in May 2010. This fed a federal investigation originally set up to look into the Rock Racing team, and snowballed from there.

Following the USADA letter, there was speculation that ASO might block either Bruyneel or the entire team from this year’s race. The Tour organisers declined to comment on the matter, and it is unclear if pressure was put on either Bruyneel or the sponsors.

Bruyneel’s communication today positions things as being his decision alone. “I’ve decided - after consulting with the Team’s main sponsors and in agreement with the Senior Management of Leopard - not to attend the race,” he wrote. “It is unfortunate that these latest, unfounded accusations have resulted in my withdrawal from the Tour, although I hope to prove my innocence and resolve this matter soon and once and for all.

“As the General Manager of Leopard, I have a lot of confidence in the quality and experience of the team directors who will direct our team at the Tour de France and I’m very hopeful to see top performances of our riders during the first three weeks of July.”

Last month a source told VeloNation that Bruyneel was issued with a subpoena upon his arrival in the US prior to the Amgen Tour of California. He was said to have been questioned there. At the time he and the team refused to comment on the matter, declining media requests for clarification of the situation.

Although he is not a US citizen, USADA has said that it has jurisdiction under UCI rules and is seeking to impose a potential lifetime ban.


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