Johan Bruyneel: ‘I’ve never put a person’s health at risk’
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Johan Bruyneel: ‘I’ve never put a person’s health at risk’

by VeloNation Press at 9:54 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Former USPS manager states he’s been demonised, says he can’t speak now due to legal advice

Johan BruyneelIn what may be a tacit acknowledgement that he was involved in the doping activities which took place on the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams, former team manager Johan Bruyneel has said that he never acted in such a way as to threaten the safety of others.

The USADA reasoned decision makes clear that it believes that Bruyneel coerced and encouraged young riders to take banned substances. That agency has laid serious doping charges against him, but there is as yet no date set for his hearing.

“These indictments are heavy, very heavy to me,” Bruyneel told the Belgian magazine Humo. “If my mom calls in tears because she has read something bad about me, that breaks my heart. Especially since the pertinent lies. I can look anyone in the eye. I've never been a person's health at risk.”

The statement echoes the stance taken by Eufemiano Fuentes when he was defending himself in the Opéracion Puerto case. He accepted that he had provided and administered doping products to athletes, but insisted that he didn’t act in such a way as to break the Spanish law relating to crimes against public health.

Fuentes was ultimately found guilty of that, but received a suspended jail sentence rather than actually doing time.

According to Bruyneel, he is frustrated that he cannot give his side of things. “After a long silence I am eager to speak my mind but my lawyers have instructed me to be quiet,” he said. “The current procedures make that impossible. But I can say one thing: I am no devil or whatever. The public may think that but eventually everyone will get a better understanding of the situation and that image will change.”

Bruyneel says he has been misunderstood, both in relation to this matter and also in general. He accepts that he could appear like a cold fish when making professional decisions, but doesn’t see anything wrong with that. “That’s a good thing. I like to keep work and private things separate.”

The Belgian has had a lot more of the latter than the former, at least in the cycling context. He lost his position as general manager of the RadioShack Nissan team last year and hasn’t worked with a team since. Essentially, he’s radioactive in terms of his image, as well as his links to the US Postal affair.

Even if he believes he has been misinterpreted, it appears very unlikely that he will ever have a similar position in cycling. Armstrong finally admitted doping in January of this year and while he didn’t name names, that acceptance that much of what was in the USADA reasoned decision was true further undermined Bruyneel’s earlier insistence of the team’s innocence.

What’s clear in his mind is that he would not be in his current difficult position if two things had not occurred. “If Armstrong had not come back and if I had included Landis in the squad again [for the 2010 season – ed.], all of this would never have happened. I am convinced of that, two hundred percent.”

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