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

by Simon_MacMichael   April 22, 2014  

Johan Bruyneel Photo by Maryse Alberti, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics

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.

 

20 user comments

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'banned former Johan Bruyneel'. So, what's he called now, other than a great big dirty cheat?

bedethebuilder

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posted by bedethe builder [7 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 10:20

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Oops. Cheers for flagging that Smile

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7926 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 10:27

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Am I right in believing that this means that the two aforementioned doctors were working with Shleck and Contador respectively when they inadvertently contaminated themselves?

posted by Veloacciaio [15 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 12:00

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I'll never understand this banning thing. These guys have done the damage, got the money and are now heading towards retirement anyway.

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [282 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 12:07

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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.”

So they will be making them pay back the wages/profits?

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [572 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 12:23

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It irks me when I read “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".

Why did he only get 10 years and Lance a lifetime ban! It is crystal clear to those in that era, that it was guys like Johann who plotted the course, and as much as Lance was a willing forceful part of this, there is a justification in his feeling that his punishment was excessive.
If it was for a criminal offence, there would be cause for appeal.

Bruyneel should face US Federal charges too.

posted by madonepro [34 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 12:24

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Veloacciaio wrote:
Am I right in believing that this means that the two aforementioned doctors were working with Shleck and Contador respectively when they inadvertently contaminated themselves?

I believe that you are correct. The USADA press release states that they were each working for those riders' teams until it initiated its case against Armstrong (which I take to mean June 2012).

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1332 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 12:28

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More random penalties dished out.
Riis gets nothing for doping
Bruyneel and co get 10 years
Armstrong gets life

posted by Simmo72 [274 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 12:33

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madonepro wrote:
... as much as Lance was a willing forceful part of this, there is a justification in his feeling that his punishment was excessive.
If it was for a criminal offence, there would be cause for appeal.

He had a right to undergo a similar arbitration process to Bruyneel. He waived that right.

When USADA banned him, he then had 21 days to appeal. He chose not to.

He's never been shy of instructing lawyers to fight his corner, but for whatever reason accepted what he got this time.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [7926 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 12:55

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Cant help agreeing with others that this is all a bit arbitrary when comparing the penalties given to Armstrong, his cohors and the others who were also at it.

So many teams and riders were doping. USPS did it worst/best, and are (rightly) getting clobbered for it now, but it's as though no-one else was up to it. Presumably, the majority of those other teams weren't subject to USADA jurisdiction - which means that the massive inconsistency seems at least partly down to the power to impose penalties being distributed to a national level. Isn't it time that cycling (and other sporting bodies) had a central body responsible for hearing cases and dishing out penalties, rather just for setting the code?

posted by step-hent [651 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 14:27

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Cant believe he only gets 10years!

Lets see Cookson go after the rest! Riis, Martinelli, Lefevere........

posted by Decster [246 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 15:05

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While I'm happy to see the ban, I do hope he takes this further, as I think he's quite right in his statement to say that USADA cannot rule over him as a Belgian and a UK resident who has never had anything to due with USADA

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posted by Gkam84 [8696 posts]
22nd April 2014 - 17:50

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Now this is a valid suggestion. National bodies cannot rule over foreigners who do not set foot on their soil. But there is the until now totally corrupt UCI, so obsessed with the weight of bikes it paid scant attention to the size of needles. Will it stand up to the task? Will it involve the sponsors? Will it resist the bribes (not necessarily in the form of money)?

How can we put pressure on the UCI to drastically clean up our sport and protect our budding athletes from a path to destruction? Surely, zero tolerance is the upper limit?

Meanwhile arbitration is all we have, and a few uncorrupted souls out there. Let us praise their patient and often ungrateful work.

The enthropy of the universe increases constantly. Carpe diem.

posted by noether [42 posts]
23rd April 2014 - 6:18

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10 years or 100 years, it won't make much difference as he is a multi millionaire. I very much doubt you'll be seeing him working at your local B&Q any time soon. No sympathy. (Would love to know what his arguments were though as weight of evidence seems pretty overwhelming to me). Devil

Pastaman

posted by pastaman [210 posts]
23rd April 2014 - 6:41

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Gkam84 wrote:
While I'm happy to see the ban, I do hope he takes this further, as I think he's quite right in his statement to say that USADA cannot rule over him as a Belgian and a UK resident who has never had anything to due with USADA

Bruyneel's statement is typical of his bullshit. The WADA code, to which he willingly signed up, allows any recognised anti-doping body to pursue a case. The location of the body doesn't matter. Don't take the words of a proven liar at face value.

Pat McQuaid tried the same nonsense argument to get jurisdiction of the Armstrong case moved from USADA to the UCI, and thankfully failed then too.

Besides, any appeal would go to the CAS which is based in Switzerland!

posted by giobox [241 posts]
23rd April 2014 - 7:23

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noether wrote:
Now this is a valid suggestion. National bodies cannot rule over foreigners who do not set foot on their soil.

Article 15.3 of the World Anti-Doping Code states that the national anti-doping body that discovered the infraction is responsible for sanctions and pursuing the issue according to the national bodies own rules and procedures. In this case that was USADA as part of the US Postal investigation. This is precisely why USADA can ban Brunyeel, and quite frankly good riddance to him.

http://www.wada-ama.org/rtecontent/document/code_v3.pdf

posted by giobox [241 posts]
23rd April 2014 - 7:37

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Banned from what exactly?
Seems a Kangaroo affair.

posted by dogcc [98 posts]
23rd April 2014 - 10:12

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This must be the only cycling website in the world where readers defend Bruyneel. Incredible.

posted by giobox [241 posts]
23rd April 2014 - 16:24

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giobox wrote:
This must be the only cycling website in the world where readers defend Bruyneel. Incredible.

Eh? Who's defending him?

posted by Chuck [357 posts]
23rd April 2014 - 16:32

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Ban a few baddies, close off debate. Job done, the peloton is now clean.

posted by daddyELVIS [384 posts]
24th April 2014 - 7:10

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