Wednesday 24 April 2019

‘We were children of our time’: Lance Armstrong’s former team manager Johan Bruyneel banned for life

Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel celebrate after the 2002 Tour ( AFP/Getty Images )
Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel celebrate after the 2002 Tour ( AFP/Getty Images )

Lawrence Ostlere

Lance Armstrong’s former team manager Johan Bruyneel said “we were all children of our era” after he was banned for life from any involvement in cycling for his crucial role in systematic doping during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Bruyneel admitted to “actions I now deeply regret” while director of the US Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams for whom Armstrong won seven Tours de France between 1999 and 2005, which were later wiped from the record books for his part in the scandal.

The 54-year-old received a ban of 10 years from the United States Anti-Doping Agency (Usada) in 2012, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) appealed for a lifetime ban which the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) upheld on Thursday. Former team doctor Pedro Celaya was also handed a lifetime ban, while trainer Jose Marti had his suspension increased from eight to 15 years.

In a statement on Twitter – where he describes himself as “proud ex-manager of my dear friend Lance Armstrong, winner of 7 Tours de France. No hypocrite” –  Bruyneel said: “I want to stress that I acknowledge and fully accept that a lot of mistakes have been made in the past. There are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently, and there are certain actions I now deeply regret... We were all children of our era, facing the pitfalls and temptations that were part of the culture at the time. We didn’t always make the best choices.”

He added that he has found dealing with Usada “incredibly frustrating”, an organisation which he says has no jurisdiction over him as a Belgian citizen living in Spain. “This agency disregarded all normal judicial limitations to crucify and demonize me, making me a key protagonist in their Hollywood version of events.”

In a statement, Cas said: “The Cas Panel found that the totality of the evidence presented before it painted a very clear picture: from 1997 to 2007, Messrs Bruyneel, Martí and Celaya participated in an elaborate and highly successful doping scheme with Mr Bruyneel at the apex of a multitude of doping violations and Mr Martí and Dr Celaya as the indispensable participants in this widespread and systematic doping program.

“The Cas Panel unanimously concluded that in the circumstances, lifetime ineligibility was an appropriate sanction for Messrs Bruyneel and Celaya, and that a period of ineligibility of 15 years was appropriate for Mr Martí.”

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