London hearings get underway behind closed doors
Despite a concerted effort from USADA and others involved to keep the arbitration hearing of Johan Bruyneel, Pedro Celaya and Jose “Pepe” Marti under wraps, Cyclingnews understands that the London-based case began on Monday and has seen a number of key witnesses give evidence. All three men are facing lifetime bans as a result of USADA's Reasoned Decision. The London event is set to be fought over jurisdiction rights, since none of the individuals are from the USA.
Although the hearing is taking place behind closed doors, Cyclingnews understands that a number of former US Postal riders have been lined up to testify with some already haven given evidence on Monday. In the weeks leading up the hearing Tyler Hamilton confirmed to Cyclingnews that he was contacted by USADA. However, Cyclingnews understands that the story promoted a stern reminder from USADA's legal counsel to remind all potential witnesses that talking to the press was strictly forbidden. Since then Hamilton has not been reachable by Cyclingnews. Floyd Landis, who was expected to give evidence, refused to comment or discuss the case.
On June 13, 2012, USADA charged Bruyneel, Armstrong's team director for all seven of the Texan's Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005, Lance Armstrong, doctors Luis Garcia del Moral, Celaya, Marti and trainer Michele Ferrari with a host of violations including possession of prohibited substances and/or methods (including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids and masking agents); trafficking of the aforementioned prohibited substances; administration and/or attempted administration of prohibited substances; and assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations.
Armstrong, Ferrari and del Moral chose not to contest the charges, while Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti opted to take the case to the arbitration hearing now being held.
Days before the hearing, Levi Leipheimer, who was one of many who gave evidence in USADA's Reasoned Decision, would only provide a 'no comment' when asked if he would provide video testimony from the United States. In a text conversation with Cyclingnews, Slipstream's Jonathan Vaughters would not even confirm if he had been asked by USADA to give evidence against Bruyneel. However he did add that he "didn't know if he would be testifying' but that 'When I submitted my affidavit in 2012, that already is testimony. As from the process there on out, you'll have to ask USADA."
However USADA has been equally as cagey. In the days leading up to the opening day of proceedings, a representative from the anti-doping body would not even confirm if Travis Tygart would be present at the landmark case. Despite all this secrecy Cyclingnews understands that witnesses began testimony on Monday and that Bruyneel's legal team were allowed the opportunity to cross-examine witnesses. A source familiar with the case said that Tom Danielson is also set to testify, via video.
This brings us to Bruyneel, the man at the centre of the hearing. From what Cyclingnews can gather the Belgian has not submitted a list of witnesses to give supporting evidence from his side. However, former US Postal team doctor Pedro Celaya has allegedly called in Martin Hardie to testify in his corner. When asked for an on-the-record comment concerning the case, Hardie would not deny that he was set to testify, telling us "No comment" before adding "I understand the arbitration is private and I respect that. In any event I don't do interviews with Daniel Benson."
Johan Bruyneel has declined to comment on several occasions when contacted by Cyclingnews.