Lance Armstrong's long-time directeur sportif and team manager Johan Bruyneel has admitted that the former Discovery Channel team, named after the TV channel that took over sponsorship from US Postal Service in 2004, did sell bicycles provided by sponsor Trek after the television network ended its backing of the team in 2007.
Bruyneel's comments come a little more than a fortnight after Floyd Landis, who rode alongside Armstrong at US Postal Service between 2002 and 2004, accused the team of having sold bikes to pay for performance enhacing drugs in an interview published by The Wall Street Journal the day this year’s Tour de France started in Rotterdam. Armstrong won all seven of his Tour de France title while riding for the team between 1999 and 2005.
An Associated Press report quotes Bruyneel saying bikes were sold, but only after Discovery Channel had ended its contract as the team's main sponsor in 2007. Landis had left the team to join Phonak Hearing Systems for the 2005 season.
Bruyneel said he didn’t know where the money went. "At the end of the Discovery Channel's sponsorship, I think there were bikes sold on eBay," said Bruyneel, who now directs Armstrong’s RadioShack team. "It was done by the team."
Bruyneel said the bikes were team property and that Trek knew some were given away "for the purpose of maintaining relationships" with the other team sponsors.
Landis had told The Wall Street Journal that about 60 bikes on the US Postal team were not accounted for, that some were sold for cash, and that Bruyneel had told him money raised from the sale helped fund the team's doping programme.
"What Floyd is saying is that 60 bikes were missing," Bruyneel said. "I have absolutely no idea where he got that from."
Armstrong and Bruyneel have repeatedly denied Landis' allegations and questioned his credibility.