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.