Johan Bruyneel banned for 10 years, former USPS manager 'at apex' of team's doping 'conspiracy'
Bans of 8 years for team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose 'Pepe' Martí
An arbitration panel has banned Johan Bruyneel for 10 years after it ruled that the Belgian was "at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping" while managing the US Postal Service team, with which Lance Armstrong won the seven editions of the Tour de France he was stripped of in 2012.
Unlike Armstrong, Bruyneel chose to fight the allegations brought against him by the United States Anti-Doping Agency USADA) through arbitration, as did two former members of the team staff - doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose 'Pepe' Martí.
The arbitration hearing was held over four days late last year in London, where Bruyneel now lives. Of the trio, only Dr Celaya gave testimony, with both Bruyneel and Marti refusing to do so, according to a statement from USADA. The arbitration panel found that Dr Celaya was not “a credible witness in this case.”
Earlier this month, Armstrong, who is banned from sport for life, named Bruyneel as among the people who had facilitated his doping.
A statement from USADA said that the panel had 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."
USADA CEO Travis Tygart, who led the probe that resulted in Armstrong being brought to account and charges being levelled against Bruyneel and others, said: “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.,” said USADA
“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.”
Besides Armstrong and the trio banned in today's announcement, lifetime bans have previously been handed down to two other individuals who decided not to contest the charges through arbitration - the Italian, Dr Michele Ferrari, and Dr Luis Garcia del Moral, from Spain.
According to the panel, Bruyneel was held to have trafficked performance enhancing drugs and to have encouraged riders to use substances such as EPO, testosterone and cortisone, and to undergo blood transfusions.
It added that he “was engaged in the allocation of team-related resources… causing a variety of prohibited doping substances and methods to be used expressly for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage for the teams and cyclists he managed in cycling events.”
The panel also held that Bruyneel, who would go on to manage Armstrong at Astana and RadioShack after the rider came out of retirement in 2009, personally “profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period.”
Former USPS team physician Dr Celaya was held to have possessed and administered doping products, and like Bruyneel was working at RadioShack Nissan Trek when USADA brought its charges in June 2012.
Marti, who was working with Saxo-Tinkoff at that point, was found to have trafficked doping products and administered injections to riders during his time at USPS.
The sanctions apply from the date the charges were brought, meaning that Bruyneel’s ban will end on 11 June 2022 and the bans for the other pair exactly two years earlier.
USADA says that 17 witnesses gave evidence under oath at the arbitration hearing, including three expert witnesses and eight cyclists.
It did not state whether any of the latter are still riding, although it seems reasonable to assume some would have been among the witnesses named in the Reasoned Decision in the Armstrong case, published in October 2012.