Johan Bruyneel

Lance Armstrong’s longtime team manager banned 10 years

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Johan Bruyneel, the man at the helm of Lance Armstrong‘s cycling teams for all seven of his stripped Tour de France titles, was banned 10 years for involvement in “doping conspiracy,” the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Tuesday.

The Belgian Bruyneel “was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the USPS and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders,” a three-member, independent arbitration panel concluded.

A team trainer and team doctor from Armstrong and Bruyneel’s U.S. Postal Service teams were also banned, for eight years. Armstrong has already been banned for life.

“From the beginning, our investigation has focused on ridding cycling of those entrusted to care for the well-being of athletes who abuse their position of trust and influence to assist or encourage the use of performance-enhancing drugs to defraud sport and clean athletes,” USADA CEO Travis Tygart said in a press release. “There is no excuse for any team director, doctor or other athlete support person who corrupts the very sport and the athletes they are supposed to protect.”

Bruyneel encouraged athletes to use performance-enhancing products such as EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone and cortisone, the panel said.

The Panel found that Bruyneel trafficked in performance-enhancing drugs and “was engaged in the allocation of team-related resources… causing a variety of prohibited doping substances and methods to be used expressly for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage for the teams and cyclists he managed in cycling events.” In addition, the Panel found that Bruyneel himself “profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period.”

Bruyneel refused to testify at his four-day hearing in London in December 2013, when 17 witness, including eight cyclists, did testify. Bruyneel presented no fact witnesses on his own behalf, USADA said. His ban runs through June 11, 2022.

Bruyneel said on his website he is debating his next step, perhaps appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different,” a blog post read. “Nor do I dispute that doping was a fact of life in the peloton for a considerable period of time. However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation.”

Bruyneel said he may decide to “try to expose the hypocrisy of what USADA has put me and others through.”

“In due course, I will take the time to give a full account of events within my knowledge,” he said.

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Olympic ski cross champion suffers serious knee injury

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Canadian Marielle Thompson, the reigning Olympic and World Cup ski cross champion, ruptured an ACL and MCL in a training crash in Switzerland.

Alpine Canada did not say when the accident happened or what Thompson’s chances are of returning to defend her Olympic title in PyeongChang.

Thompson flew from Switzerland to Vancouver for an MRI that confirmed the injury.

“I’ll be making a plan with my team moving forward and when the time is right getting back on the ski cross course stronger than ever,” Thompson said in a press release.

Thompson, 25, tore a meniscus in January 2015 and returned to competition 11 months later. She won seven of the 13 World Cup races last season.

Other Olympic medal contenders include Swede Sandra Näslund and Swiss Fanny Smith.

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Nathan Chen leads Yuzuru Hanyu at Grand Prix opener (video)

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U.S. champion Nathan Chen hopes to become comfortable in this spot this season — ahead of reigning Olympic and world champion Yuzuru Hanyu in the standings.

The 18-year-old Chen landed two quadruple jumps in his short program at the opening Grand Prix event in Moscow, taking a 5.69-point lead over Hanyu going into Saturday’s free skate.

Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva of Russia topped the women’s short program with 80.75 points (one tenth off her world record).

Full Rostelecom Cup results are here.

Chen’s tally — 100.54 points — is the second-highest short of his flourishing international career. It would have been higher if not for two of his three jumping passes receiving negative grades of execution for wonky landings.

The Japanese megastar Hanyu fell on his final jump, a triple toe loop, on Friday. No matter, Winnie the Pooh bears rained down on the ice from the adoring crowd, many of whom traveled from Japan.

Hanyu scored 94.85 points, one month after breaking his world record short program score with 112.72 points in a small event in Canada.

“Today I made some mistakes in my short program, but overall it didn’t feel bad,” Hanyu said, according to the International Skating Union.

Hanyu, though he is the current PyeongChang favorite, has never won his season-opening Grand Prix event in seven tries.

Chen has now outscored Hanyu, who is four years older, in four of their last eight head-to-head skates.

Hanyu was better in the two biggest programs at last season’s world championships. Chen placed sixth at worlds in April, perhaps gassed at the end of his first senior season while competing on duct-taped skates.

In the women’s standings, Medvedeva topped Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy by 6.13 points.

American Mirai Nagasu landed a triple Axel that was called under rotated and fell on her other two jumping passes. She ended up ninth, two spots behind U.S. bronze medalist Mariah Bell.

In the short dance, two-time world medalists and U.S. champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani tallied 77.30 points.

The siblings lead by .97 over Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev going into the free dance.

Russians are one-two in pairs. World bronze medalists Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov by 5.49.

All of the free skates are Saturday, live on Olympic Channel. A full schedule is here.

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Rostelecom Cup
Men’s Short
1. Nathan Chen (USA) — 100.54
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 94.85
3. Dmitriy Aliyev (RUS) — 88.77
11. Grant Hochstein (USA) — 67.56

Women’s Short
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 80.75
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 74.64
3. Wakaba Higuchi (JPN) — 69.60
7. Mariah Bell (USA) — 63.85
9. Mirai Nagasu (USA) — 56.15

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 77.30
2. Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 76.33
3. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) — 71.32
7. Rachel Parsons/Michael Parsons (USA) — 59.41

Pairs Short
1. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) — 76.88
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 71.39
3. Valentina Marchei/Ondřej Hotárek (ITA) — 68.48
7. Marissa Castelli/Mervin Tran (USA) — 54.37