Johan Bruyneel has been handed a 10 year ban in sport by the American Arbitration Association (AAA). Bruyneel’s sanction has been back-dated to when he was originally charged and will end June 11, 2022.
According to the panel, they found that “the evidence establishes conclusively that Mr. 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. Similarly, Dr. Celaya and Mr. Martí were part of, or at least allowed themselves to be used as instruments of, that conspiracy.”
Bruyneel was originally issued with doping charges as a result of USADA's investigation into doping at the US Postal team.
The charges fell on June 13, 2012, when USADA started cases against Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong's team director for all seven of the Texan's Tour de France victories from 1999 to 2005, 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.
Lance Armstrong was handed a lifetime ban after he failed to fight the charges levelled at him but Bruyneel, who also faced a life ban, decided to take the matter to court. USADA confirmed today that Dr. Pedro Celaya and Jose “Pepe” Martí have both been handed eight-year bans.
Bruyneel had fought USADA over jurisdiction, claiming that they could not sanction him due to his nationality and that only the Belgian cycling federation could impose a sanction.
A hearing was set up and took place in London at the tailend of last year, although Cyclingnews understands that Bruyneel did not attend.
Several former teammates of Lance Armstrong were originally asked to give evidence – some via video teleconference – against Bruyneel.
With a ban now in place, Bruyneel must decide if he will take the matter to the CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport). This could prove both lengthy and certainly expensive if he were to lose.
"I am currently debating what my next step should be. I could still challenge the decision of the AAA in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, although that would again require me to put my faith in arbitration," Bruyneel wrote on his personal blog.
"I will shortly decide whether to keep up the fight or carry on and try to expose the hypocrisy of what USADA has put me and others through."
Johan Bruyneel declined to comment when contacted by Cyclingnews.
USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart stated in a press release that “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."
“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.”