Lance Armstrong’s coach Bruyneel given ten-year ban

Johan Bruyneel, centre, may appeal the decision. Picture: Getty
Johan Bruyneel, centre, may appeal the decision. Picture: Getty
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Lance Armstrong’s long-time coach, Johan Bruyneel, was banned for ten years yesterday for helping to organise large-scale doping on teams led by the disgraced cyclist.

The US Anti-Doping Agency announced the verdicts of an American Arbitration Association panel against Bruyneel and two medical staff, completing its lengthy investigation which saw Armstrong banished from cycling in 2012.

Bruyneel “was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the (US Postal Service) and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders,” USADA said in a statement.

Team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti will serve eight-year bans. Bruyneel claimed he, Armstrong and the others have been made scapegoats for an era when doping was “a fact of life” in cycling.

“I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different,” Bruyneel said in a statement. “However, a very small minority of us have been used as scapegoats for an entire generation.” Bruyneel said he would consider appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti faced charges including trafficking and administering doping products and methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, human growth hormone and cortisone.

The ruling said Bruyneel encouraged riders to cheat, and Levi Leipheimer, one of eight former Armstrong team-mates who gave evidence, testified to the director’s “integral role” managing the doping programme.

“Specifically, Mr Leipheimer stated that Mr Bruyneel ‘was the boss; people who took actions only did so from his instructions’,” the AAA stated in its 112-page published ruling.

The verdicts followed a four-day hearing in London last December before a three-member AAA panel. “The panel found that Bruyneel himself ‘profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period’,” the USADA statement said.

Bruyneel refused to testify and “presented no fact witnesses on his own behalf,” USADA said. Marti also refused to testify, while Celaya was cross examined and found by the panel not to be a credible witness.

Bruyneel is banned from working in all sports to 11 June, 2022. Celaya’s and Marti’s sanctions end on 11 June, 2020. The sanctions date from June 2012 when USADA accused Armstrong and his teams of doping.