Johan Bruyneel, former director of the US Postal team of the American Lance Armstrong, was suspended for life from the cycling world by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS).
Bruyneel, 54, was the manager of the team in which Armstrong won his seven Tours de France in a row, from 1999 to 2005, and which were taken from him years later, after uncovering the biggest doping scandal in cycling history.
“I want to underline that I fully acknowledge and accept that many mistakes were made in the past,” Belgian Bruyneel wrote in an open letter posted on his Twitter account after the Switzerland-based CAS made its decision.
“There are many things that I wish I could have done differently, and there are a number of actions that I deeply regret. The period in which I lived, as a cyclist and later as a team manager, was very different from today, “he added.
This decision is the culmination of a case opened in 2012, when the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) indicted Bruyneel as part of the Armstrong investigation.
Three doctors and coach Michele Ferrari were charged with possession, trafficking and administration of doping substances.
The United States Arbitration Association (AAA) sanctioned Bruyneel for 10 years in 2014, when the World Anti-Doping Agency responded with a lawsuit for a lifetime suspension, as in Armstrong’s case in 2012.
In its closing of a long and complicated case, the CAS noted that the AAA panel concluded in 2014 that “the evidence conclusively established that Mr. Bruyneel was on the cusp of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on USPS teams. and Discovery Channel, spanning many years and many brokers. ‘
The CAS believes that “if a lifetime sanction is possible, and it is, the panel does not see reasons why it should not be imposed in the case of Mr. Bruyneel for his active participation in systemic and widespread doping in sport. of cycling over the years ”.
In the same statement, the TAS also sanctioned Spanish doctor Pedro Celaya Lezama for life and increased the suspension of his compatriot Pepe Martí to 15 years.
“While it has been an arduous effort to fully expose the truth, our job is to seek justice, even when the road is long and winding, because that is exactly what clean athletes expect and deserve,” said the USADA Executive Director, Travis T. Tygart, in response to CAS decision.
Tygart claimed that Bruyneel, Celaya and Martí “resorted to all tricks to hide the truth. This is another powerful example where following the rules matters. Doping is never justified and will always be inexcusable, “he added. AFP