Bruyneel walking away from the sport: “I’ve made a decision that I’m pretty much done with cycling”
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Saturday, November 23, 2013

Bruyneel walking away from the sport: “I’ve made a decision that I’m pretty much done with cycling”

by Shane Stokes at 9:50 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Belgian says he doesn’t see himself “as the devil,” claims he has been unfairly treated

Johan BruyneelHe’s got a long-overdue arbitration hearing in London next month but, perhaps fearful of the questions he might face plus the likelihood of a lifetime ban, Johan Bruyneel has indicated he’s walking away from the sport of cycling.

“I’m thinking more and more…I’ve been starting to make this decision in the last few weeks. With the charges against me, I’ve made a decision that I’m pretty much done with cycling, because I don’t see a change,” said the former Belgian professional, who managed Lance Armstrong during all seven of his now-stripped Tour de France wins.

Bruyneel was speaking to RTL in a video interview conducted in London, where he now lives.

In June of last year USADA made formal doping charges against Armstrong, Bruyneel and others, laying out charges in a range of areas.

Bruyneel was facing five claims against him, 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.

In USADA’s subsequent reasoned decision, the agency stated that it had no doubt that he had broken numerous regulations.

“The overwhelming evidence in this case is that Johan Bruyneel was intimately involved in all significant details of the U.S. Postal team’s doping program. He alerted the team to the likely presence of testers. He communicated with Dr. Ferrari about his stars’ doping programs. He was on top of the details for organizing blood transfusion programs before the major Tours, and he knew when athletes needed to take EPO to regenerate their blood supply after extracting blood. He was present when blood transfusions were given. He even personally provided drugs to the riders on occasion.”

Bruyneel had denied the claims but in October he lost his position as general manager of the RadioShack Nissan team. Then when Armstrong finally admitted a long term doping programme when interviewed by Oprah Winfrey in January of this year, the game was up.

In June of this year the Belgian made a tacit acknowledgement that he was involved in the doping activities which took place on the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams, telling the magazine Humo that he “had never put a person’s health at risk.”

There was an unexpected and unexplained delay in initiating proceedings against Bruyneel but according to a report on Roadcycling.com last month, he will face an arbitration hearing in London between December 16th and 20th.

However his interview with RTL suggest that he may decide not to fight arbitration, and to instead walk away. If so, he faces a lengthy ban from USADA. In that light, declaring now that he is done with cycling is little more than pre-empting the likely sanction facing him.

“I don’t see myself as the devil. People are trying to picture myself and Lance as the bad guys,” he said. “They want to blame it all on [us], I think that is happening.”

Rather than defend himself, he now wants to wash his hands of the matter. He didn’t indicate what he will do next, but as regards cycling, he’s walking away. “Move on – that’s what I’m trying to do,” he said.

Given the serious charges against him, the huge blow to his credibility and the anger of many fans, the decision is not unexpected. However there may be an additional reason; he, Armstrong and others are defendants in a multi-million dollar Qui Tam suit initiated by Floyd Landis and joined by the US government.

On Monday the federal judge overseeing the case, Judge Robert L. Wilkins, stated in a Washington court that it would likely go ahead.

Should Bruyneel contest his arbitration case, he will have to give sworn evidence which in turn could be used against him and others in the Qui Tam case.

After years of brazenly denying doping his riders while repeatedly breaking the rules, it appears that his time in cycling has finally run out.

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