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Johan Bruyneel ties up a few loose ends before the start of stage one.
RadioShack-Nissan manager charged with doping and cover-up conspiracy
Johan Bruyneel's future, and that of Team RadioShack-Nissan, is unknown in light of doping charges brought against the team manager. He is facing doping charges brought by the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). He is charged with possession and trafficking in prohibited substances, as well as conspiring to cover up the illegal activities and if found guilty, could face a life-long ban from the sport.
Also charged were Dr. Pedro Celaye, Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, Dr. Michele Ferrari, and soigneur Pepe Marti, as well as Lance Armstrong. Armstrong has already been temporarily suspended from participating in triathlons.
Bruyneel may also be suspended from any further participation with the team until the charges are resolved. However, neither the team nor the UCI has yet publicly addressed the issue, and Cyclingnews has not been able to reach them for a statement.
Bruyneel, 47, could face up to a lifetime ban from pro cycling if he is convicted.
The illegal products and methods
In a 15-page letter sent to all of the respondents, the USADA went through a list of illegal products and methods said to have been used at the teams USPS, Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack. Bruyneel has always denied any knowledge of doping practices being carried out on teams he has managed, criticising both Tyler Hamilton and Floyd Landis – both of whom are former US Postal riders who have admitted to have taken doping products.
The first one mentioned was that that those named had implemented “a number of means to avoid detection of EPO use”. Bruyneel is specifically named by “multiple riders” as having “developed training plans dependent upon EPO use and instructed riders to use the drug.”
Similar charges were made with regards to blood transfusions. Bruyneel and the others not only “developed training plans dependent upon blood transfusions,” but also “facilitated” blood transfusions.”
The letter also states that “Numerous USPS and Discovery Channel riders have also reported that the frequent use of testosterone patches by team members and that oral testosterone (pills or oil), testosterone injections or testosterone patches were provided by Johan Bruyneel” and the others. Bruyneel is also named as providing human growth hormone to team members.”
Corticosteroids can be legally used, but also illegally. Riders and employees reported “that Johan Bruyneel and Pepe Marti encouraged the authorized used to corticosteroids for performance enhancement and gave these drugs to riders.”
Charges against Bruyneel
Specifically, Bruyneel is charged with:
-- The possession of prohibited substance and/or methods.
-- Trafficking of those prohibited substances and methods.
-- The administration or attempted administration of those prohibited substances and methods.
-- “Assisting, encourage, aiding, abetting covering up and other complicity” involving anti-doping violations.
-- Aggravating circumstances which would justify a longer period of ineligibility than the standard sanction.
As a summary of his actions, the letter said that numerous riders will testify that “he gave to them and/or encouraged them to use doping products and/or prohibited methods.” In addition, witnesses “will also testify that Bruyneel worked actively to conceal rule violations by himself and others throughout the period from 1999 through the present.”
A specific penalty is not spelled out in the USADA's letter, but the agency ominously noted that sanctions “may include up to a lifetime period of ineligibility from participation in sport.”