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Johan Bruyneel ties up a few loose ends before the start of stage one.
USADA revelations prove detrimental for Belgian manager
The Radioshack-Nissan-Trek team has confirmed that Johan Bruyneel has been dismissed from his role as general manager of the team as a consequence of the USADA doping investigation and the revelations of the USADA reasoned decision documents.
“Acting in mutual agreement, on October 12 Leopard SA and Johan Bruyneel decided to end their collaboration. From this day on, Johan Bruyneel will no longer act in the position of General Manager of cycling team RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK,” a statement from the Luxembourg-based team reads.
“The Reasoned Decision published by the USADA included a number of testimonies as a result of their investigation. In light of these testimonies, both parties feel it is necessary to make this decision since Johan Bruyneel can no longer direct the Team in an efficient and comfortable way. His departure is desirable to ensure the serenity and cohesiveness within the Team.”
“RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK wishes to thank Johan Bruyneel for his dedication and devotion since his arrival in the Team.”
"The USADA investigation does not concern the activities of Mr. Bruyneel while managing the RADIOSHACK NISSAN TREK Team. Johan Bruyneel contests the validity of the procedure as well as the charges against him."
The Radioshack-Nissan-Trek team described Bruyneel as the most successful directeur sportif in cycling history, but seven of the Tour de France victories he helped to direct are set to be nullified. It appears that Bruyneel’s role in cycling has now been consigned to history.
Bruyneel managed Lance Armstrong's teams throughout the height of the Texan’s career after his own racing career with the ONCE team. He has been accused by the USADA report of playing an active part in the doping schemes that allowed him to win seven Tours de France. The Belgian Cycling federation is currently investigating the charges put forward by USADA, and could hand Bruyneel a lifetime ban.
USADA's reasoned decision in the Armstrong case described Bruyneel as a key player in the organised doping which took place at the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams. Bruyneel has constantly denied such charges.
The overwhelming evidence in this case is that Johan Bruyneel was intimately involved in all significant details of the U.S. Postal team’s doping program. "He alerted the team to the likely presence of testers. He communicated with Dr. Ferrari about his stars’ doping programs," the document said.
"He was on top of the details for organizing blood transfusion programs before the major Tours, and he knew when athletes needed to take EPO to regenerate their blood supply after extracting blood. He was present when blood transfusions were given. He even personally provided drugs to the riders on occasion."
On Thursday Fabian Cancellara raised doubts about Bruyneel remaining as the team manager at RadioShack-Nissan-Trek. Those doubts have now been answered.
Step back to concentrate on defence
In a message on his personal website, Bruyneel said he was stepping back from the role of team manager to prepare for his impending arbitration case with USADA. He claimed that USADA's decision to publish information from their investigation may have prejudiced his case.
"I have decided to step back from my official team activities in order to concentrate on my defence, and in order to shield the RadioShack - Nissan - Trek cycling team from unnecessary distractions," he said.
"I am surprised and extremely disappointed that USADA released information in the public domain relating to their pending case against me before I had been given any opportunity to review the evidence and provide my defence against it. I still hope to be able to defend myself in a forum free from bias, although I now fear that USADA’s calculated action may have irreversibly prejudiced my case. It is a troubling facet of USADA’s approach to this case that it appears not to respect basic principles such as the right to be heard and the presumption of innocence."
"I hope everyone will understand that in order to preserve the integrity of the on-going legal proceedings, I cannot unfortunately make any further comment for the time being. Once again, I would like to thank all of those who have reached out to me offering their support in these difficult days – it is very much appreciated."