"Stunned" - Johan Bruyneel slams USADA for publishing evidence ahead of arbitration hearing
Agency accused of breaching confidentiality by going public with allegations in Armstrong dossier
Johan Bruyneel, says he is "stunned" by what he calls a "breach of confidentiality" on the agency's part in revealing details of the case against him when it published its Reasoned Decision on Lance Armstrong last week. The Belgian, sacked as manager of RadioShack-Nissan on Friday, is due to face the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) in an arbitration hearing next month to fight charges relating to the US Postal scandal.
"I have received many questions about USADA’s case pending against me, particularly since it published its “Reasoned Decision” last week," wrote Bruyneel on his website, which still proclaims him to be "9x winning Tour de France sports director."
"However," he continued, "in deference to the on-going legal proceedings, I will only be able to share my account of events once legal proceedings are over. While I am still stunned that USADA chose to breach the confidentiality of the proceedings it initiated against me, I shall nevertheless not allow myself to be reduced to such tactics.
"In response to recent speculation, I will continue to be involved in legal proceedings relating to USADA’s proposed charges as long as I believe that I am still able to receive a fair hearing and that my defence has not been permanently prejudiced by USADA’s act.
"However, rest assured that the time will come when I will share with you a balanced account of events," he concluded.
With a number of witnesses who had provided sworn affidavits to USADA stating that the Belgian team manager had been central to the culture of doping at US Postal during the years that Armstrong won seven successive Tour de France titles under him, RadioShack-Nissan, which Bruyneel had managed following RadioShack's merger with Leopard Trek ahead of the 2012 season, sacked him last week.
Irrespective of whether or not Bruyneel is guilty, some might argue he has a point. It's unusual that such a wealth of detail relating to specific allegations would come out ahead of an arbitration hearing, but then the US Postal scandal is far from a typical case.
USADA was under pressure to get its Reasoned Decision to the UCI. Given how central Bruyneel is alleged to have been to events, it would have been impossible to leave his name out, but many would feel he is justified in arguing that publication of the Reasoned Decision has prejudiced his case.
Besides managing Armstrong to his seven Tour de France wins with US Postal and Discovery Channel, and also being in charge of Astana and RadioShack when the Texan rode for those teams following his comeback in 2009, Bruyneel also led Alberto Contador to two Tour victories.
The 48-year-old, who is nowadays based in London, is likely to face a life ban from sport in the event that the arbitration panel at USADA's hearing finds against him.