Updated: Johan Bruyneel leaves Radioshack Nissan Trek + L'Equipe floats theory he poisoned Franck Schleck

Earlier Fabian Cancellara expressed concern about working with Bruyneel again… he needn't have worried

by Simon_MacMichael   October 12, 2012  

Johan Bruyneel © Montgomery

Johan Bruyneel  this afternon left his position as General Manager of the Radioshack Nissan Trek (RSNT) Cycling team by "mutual agreement" . The Belgian's role with the team had clearly become untenable in the light of the revelations about his involvement in systematic doping contained in the evidence published by USADA to support its Reasoned Decision for the lifetime ban it imposed on Lance Armstrong. In a separate development the French sports paper L'Equipe today floated the theory that RSNT rider, Frank Schleck tested positive for a banned diuretic at last year's Tour de France because he was poisoned by his team manager, Johan Bruyneel.

While Schleck himself put forward sabotage by persons unknown as a potential reason for failing that doping control, it's somewhat surprising to see the theory advanced in print - although perhaps less so in this of all weeks given some of the revalations in the Armstrong dossier. But it should be underlined that the theory, appearing under the heading "Fränk Schleck au coeur d'un règlement de comptes” [Frank Schleck at the centre of a settling of scores] as part of a wider piece is just that, one theory among many.

Schleck is due to face a disciplinary hearing of the Luxembourg cycling federation on Monday following an earlier hearing at the end of August, reports Wort.lu, which adds that according to L'Equipe's article, Bruyneel's supposed motivation to slip the unaware Fränk the diuretic Xipamide, if that is indeed what happened, was in response to his desire to leave the team alongside brother Andy; the reasoning goes that a banned Fränk wouldn't be able to ride elsewhere, and that Andy, who has missed most of the season due to injury, would remain with the team.

In it's press statement RSNT linked Bruyneel's departure with USADA's Reasoned Decision in its case against Lance Armstrong published earlier this week.

"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."

Ironically the Radioshack Nissan Trek team has been far from serene or cohesive ever since the merger, less than a year ago of the Radioshack team managed by Bruyneel and the Leopard Trek team that suppled RSNT's star riders with more or less open hostility shown towards Bruyneel and his methods by the team's leading riders.

Meanwhile, former world time trial champion Cancellara, who spent the opening week of this year’s Tour de France in the maillot jaune after winning the Prologue in Liege, was speaking to the press on the Jungfrau in the Swiss Alps at the end of a season that also saw him suffer a multiple fracture of the collarbone in the Tour of Flanders. During the press call which came before the announcement of Bruyneel's departure Cancellara made plain that he would have difficulty working with the Belgian.

The ups and downs of Cancellara’s year and that of his RadioShack-Nissan team would on their own have provided plenty of plenty of material for the journalists present on the mountain, but unsurprisingly the fallout from the Armstrong affair dominated discussions, according to Belgium’s Het Laaste Nieuws.

Cancellara revealed that he hadn’t read the full decision yet, but planned to do so. “It reads like a book,” he said. “I’ve heard that in 200 pages, Bruyneel’s name appears 129 times. I want to know what happened. I don’t know if I can work with Johan. I don’t know what the future brings, either for Bruyneel, or for the team. It’s not in my hands.”

Unlike Armstrong, Bruyneel has elected to fight USADA’s charges through arbitration. With that hearing due to be held next month, it’s perhaps surprising that the Armstrong decision reveals so much detail of the case against Bruyneel, but it’s difficult to see how he can escape what is likely to be a lifetime ban. In any event, his relationship withe RadioShack-Nissan now appears to be over.

The 48-year-old Belgian, who as team manager with US Postal and Discovery Channel led Armstrong to his seven Tour de France wins and secured two more through Alberto Contador, became manager of RadioShack-Nissan when RadioShack and Leopard Trek merged at the end of last season.

He was expected to manage the team during this year’s Tour de France, but pulled out after USADA pressed charges against him. The team’s participation in the race was overshadowed by Schleck testing positive for a banned diuretic, revealed during the second rest day in Pau.

“I don’t know how the team owner, Flavio Becca, will react,” said Cancellara, who recently committed himself  to the team for the 2013 season. “In the past two years, he’s had a lot of problems with the team. He’s losing money, not getting wins, and is suffering problems with his image.

“Any normal businessman would have thrown in the towel by now, but I don’t think Becca will. There’s one thing I do know for sure – Armstrong [who had ridden for RadioShack prior to the merger] has nothing more to do with this team.

"Lance was apparently a systematic doper. He doped on a scale that cycling has never seen before seen. He has really destroyed a lot. I hope now that Armstrong was the ‘Last of the Mohicans,’ the last keeper of the generation of Ullrich, Basso, Landis and Heras,” he added.

Of those, Ivan Basso, banned in the wake of Operacion Puerto after admitting only that he considered doping, is still riding of course.

"Today riders are once again paying the price for what went wrong six, seven years ago. That's not fair. Lance has ensured that the early years of my career are wasted years. I hope that we can finally put this period behind us. It won’t happen immediately, it takes time, but it must happen.”

Cancellara concluded by saying that while the peloton was previously fuelled by drugs during what he termed “the golden years of doping,” the sport was more professional now, with the emphasis on attention to detail, which was what he placed his own faith in rather than doping.

“It has changed," he said.

23 user comments

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Fabian's not read Last of the Mohicans then. He was the good guy... Retires to pedants' corner


Wooliferkins's picture

posted by Wooliferkins [50 posts]
12th October 2012 - 12:02


Given he's ridden on a Bruyneel team, I don't no if I can cheer for Cancellara once La Ronde comes around ....

posted by MattT53 [144 posts]
12th October 2012 - 12:04


So what was he supposed to do? Break his existing contract with Leopard SA when Bruyneel came on board?

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9309 posts]
12th October 2012 - 12:20


Simon_MacMichael wrote:
So what was he supposed to do? Break his existing contract with Leopard SA when Bruyneel came on board?

Quite. And its known that Fabs had his lawyer try to get him out of his remaining contract so that he wouldnt have to ride for them next year - but the lawyer couldnt find a loophole and RSNT werent having any of it.

posted by Sam1 [220 posts]
12th October 2012 - 12:32


Big difference between looking to negotiate your way out of contract and simply walking away from it though, which is what I was getting at Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9309 posts]
12th October 2012 - 12:46


Some savvy PR work from Cancellara there. He's basically saying to Becca, "if you want to keep me (the only guy on your team winning anything) happy then ditch Bruyneel".

It's no ultimatum but whatever the outcome of Bruyneel's case and whether or not he gets a ban I'd put money on him not being at RSNT next year.

posted by drheaton [3429 posts]
12th October 2012 - 12:53


Yes, you raise a good point - the comment was largely in jest, with a dash of general frustration added. It is good to see Cancellara say he doesn't want to ride for Bruyneel anymore.

However I think given Bruyneels rep has been around a long time before this report anyone at RSN is unfortunately tainted by association in my mind now (given how persuasive he seems to have been at USP) - Schleck younger especially! Raises the question of why he was hired.

In fairness, reading through all the rider affidavits it's clear there's a lot of teams not coming out of it well(Astana/ Liquigas/ RSN, even CSC, Rabobank and Sky to a much lesser degree etc.)

posted by MattT53 [144 posts]
12th October 2012 - 12:56


Seems to me that Spartacus doesn't need to worry about working with Bruyneel again, unless he's a big believer in reincarnation

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
12th October 2012 - 13:23


Fabian must be in a position financially to pay out the remaining year of his contract and if he signs with another team they will no doubt help out.

Or is it purely PR to try and distance himself from any allegations ???????????

There are no stupid questions, just stupid people.

posted by stumps [3184 posts]
12th October 2012 - 13:38


I think what Fabian is saying is that people who have been involved in organized doping in the past have no place in a current teams management. This seems to match the USADA reports findings and what ex dopers like Millar etc have said. The main problem is the bent management not the bent riders.

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
12th October 2012 - 13:57


Sounds like he can stay at RSNT, as reports coming in that JB has been given the boot

andylul's picture

posted by andylul [418 posts]
12th October 2012 - 15:56


i have now forgiven fabian for that dance when he took the yellow jersey with this statement Big Grin

posted by russyparkin [578 posts]
12th October 2012 - 16:02


Twitter saying Bruyneel is gone from RSNT anyway.
But if Cancellara is expecting me to believe he is 100% innocent across his entire career then he is a chump...

jimmythecuckoo's picture

posted by jimmythecuckoo [1344 posts]
12th October 2012 - 16:13


jimmythecuckoo wrote:
But if Cancellara is expecting me to believe he is 100% innocent across his entire career then he is a chump...

Oh no, not Spartacus as well. He seems like such a nice bloke. I think I would actually go off pro cycling if he turns out to be a steak-eater.

Will the USADA publish the wiring diagrams from his electric bike? I hope it's easy to rig up, if I ask the guys at Maplin to help...

493rd in GC Fantasy TdF 2014

Sanderville's picture

posted by Sanderville [301 posts]
12th October 2012 - 18:02


Possibly the most updated story we've ever run with it's fourth headline and a new pic… bit of an old one.Don't suppose he's smiling now

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
12th October 2012 - 18:23


Does Johan really think he is going to get out of this ?

Cycled up Alpe d'Huez at least once each month since July 2008


gbzpto's picture

posted by gbzpto [92 posts]
12th October 2012 - 20:27


tony_farrelly wrote:
Possibly the most updated story we've ever run with it's fourth headline and a new pic… bit of an old one.Don't suppose he's smiling now

Its the fourth time youve changed the headline and you still cant decide what his name is yet? Is it John or Johan?
Raised Eyebrow

posted by Some Fella [901 posts]
12th October 2012 - 21:09


okay, five

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7804 posts]
12th October 2012 - 22:36


i never did like the look of this bloke, always kinda thought he was a bit dodgy. just hope spartacus doesn't turn to be a cheating bar steward, one of my fave riders.

posted by Karbon Kev [683 posts]
13th October 2012 - 8:43


Working with Riis didn't seem to bother him too much.

posted by sneakerfrfeak [87 posts]
13th October 2012 - 10:11


Some Fella wrote:
Its the fourth time youve changed the headline and you still cant decide what his name is yet? Is it John or Johan? Raised Eyebrow

Bruyneel lives in London. We call everyone "John" there Wink

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [9309 posts]
13th October 2012 - 11:44


We call everyone "John" there Wink

Not only that we also ask them wether they've got a new motor!


posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [710 posts]
15th October 2012 - 10:08


Seems to me that YOU GUYS need to write to your MPs to get them to force the GB Olympic Committee to call the IOC and inaugurate an " AMNESTY for ALL SPORTS " before the Criminals take over the " Mad House " called SPORT !

Skippy(advocate for "Disabled / Para Sport")@skippydetour. blogging as skippi-cyclist.blogspot & Parrabuddy.blogspot currently on the road with ProTour Grand Tour Events .

skippy's picture

posted by skippy [406 posts]
15th October 2012 - 16:53