Johan Bruyneel exited as general manager of the RadioShack Nissan Trek cycling team two days after a report detailed his alleged role in a doping conspiracy around seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
Bruyneel and RadioShack mutually agreed to the departure yesterday because Bruyneel “can no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way,” the squad said in a statement posted on its website.
The Colorado Springs, Colorado-based U.S. Anti-Doping Agency released a 202-page report and more than 1,000 pages of related testimony on Oct. 10 that said Armstrong used banned substances, administered them to other riders on the U.S. Postal Service team, tried to procure false affidavits and prevent witness from testifying. Bruyneel was the team manager for U.S. Postal as Armstrong won the Tour de France, victories that have since been stripped by USADA.
Bruyneel, two doctors and a trainer who were a part of the U.S. Postal team were accused by USADA in June of joining Armstrong in planning the use of banned drugs.
Bruyneel, who unlike Armstrong decided to take USADA’s case against him to arbitration, said in a statement on his website yesterday that he decided to step down to focus on his defense and shield the team from unnecessary distractions. He said USADA hurt his case with the release of the Armstrong report.
“I am surprised and extremely disappointed that USADA released information in the public domain relating to their pending case against me before I had been given any opportunity to review the evidence and provide my defense against it,” Bruyneel said. “I still hope to be able to defend myself in a forum free from bias, although I now fear that USADA’s calculated action may have irreversibly prejudiced my case.”
Richard Young, an attorney for Bryan Cave LLP who represented USADA in the Armstrong case and crafted the World Anti-Doping Code in 2003, said Bruyneel’s denial of involvement in doping left the agency free to respond, based on the provisions of the code.
“When someone comes out and denies their involvement in doping, USADA is free to respond,” Young said in a telephone interview. “Anybody that’s named there, the other respondents, all denied that they did it. They opened the door.”
In opting not to fight USADA’s charges, Armstrong was banned for life from competing in professional cycling or other Olympic-sanctioned events.
The International Cycling Union, known by the French acronym UCI, has 21 days after receiving the USADA report to decide whether to appeal USADA’s sanctions. Christian Prudhomme, the race director for the Tour de France, said cycling’s most prestigious event will have no winner from 1999 to 2005 if UCI upholds USADA’s findings, calling the report “damning,” according to the Associated Press.
Young said he hoped UCI would use USADA’s report as an opportunity to “hit the reset button on cycling,” though he was unsure what the federation’s reaction will be.
“I can tell you what I would hope it would be, which is ‘Good job, we’re not going to appeal,’” Young said.
Enrico Carpani, a spokesman for UCI, said it was “too early to say” how it would respond to the USADA’s report, AP said. UCI said in a statement two days ago that it would review USADA’s file and make a decision on an appeal as quickly as possible.
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