Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
Former U.S. Postal team manager Johan Bruyneel says he has been given a lifetime ban from cycling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) for his involvement in the doping conspiracy tied to Lance Armstrong’s seven Tour de France victories.
On Wednesday Bruyneel posted an open letter, stating he had received an email from the CAS stating that Bruyneel’s previous 10 year ban had been extended to a lifetime ban.
“I want to stress that I acknowledge and fully accept that a lot of mistakes have been made in the past,” Bruyneel wrote. “There are a lot of things I wish I could have done differently, and there are certain actions I now deeply regret. The period I lived through, both as a cyclist and as a team director, was very different than it is today.”
Bruyneel, 54, was the manager for all seven of Armstrong’s victories from 1999 through 2005, and he managed the Texan during his comeback in 2009 and 2010. In 2012 Usada charged Bruyneel as part of its investigation into Armstrong alongside three team doctors and trainer Michele Ferrari, for a host of violations relating to the possession of prohibited substances; trafficking those substances; and administration and/or attempted administration of those prohibited substances, among other charges.
In 2014 Bruyneel was convicted of those charges by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and handed a 10-year ban. The World Anti-doping appealed the ruling, and in June of that year pushed to have Bruyneel banned for life.
“In appealing the AAA’s decision to CAS, WADA requests that consideration be given to longer sanctions for all three individuals involved in order to best protect athletes, and ensure a clean sport of cycling,” WADA said in a 2014 statement. “UCI and USADA are supportive of the appeal to seek longer sanctions, and will provide support to WADA during this process.”
Earlier this year Bruyneel was ordered to pay $1.2 million to the U.S. government for his part in Armstrong’s doping program.
Throughout the legal process Bruyneel has argued that Usada does not have legal authority over his case. Bruyneel is Belgian and he lives in Spain.
“In spite of the CAS decision, I firmly maintain my position that USADA does not have – and never had any legal authority over me,” Bruyneel wrote. “Thus, USADA never had the power to open a case against me, and less still any power to issue me with a ban of any duration.”
The full transcript of the letter is below:
This afternoon, I received an email from the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne, announcing that the 10-year ban, imposed by the United States Anti Doping Agency (USADA) in 2012, has been increased and is now a lifetime ban. The World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) had appealed against the original 10-year ban and instead demanded I be banned for life. Their request has been granted by CAS and I am now banned for life from cycling.
Although there’s effectively nothing I can do against this sanction and at 54 years of age, a 10-year ban or a lifetime ban is practically the same I would still like to take the opportunity to highlight a few key elements in this long process.
First and foremost, 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. The period I lived through, both as a cyclist and as a team director, was very different than it is today.
Without going into details in this letter, I would simply like to observe that 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.
In terms of the whole sports-legal process, however, and trying to keep this letter as brief as possible, there are elements which I feel the need to highlight, as even today, after all these years, I find them incredibly frustrating.
USADA: I have said from the beginning that this American agency had no jurisdiction over me. I am a Belgian citizen, living in Spain, and I have never had any contractual agreement, let alone an arbitration agreement, with USADA. Yet this agency disregarded all normal judicial limitations to crucify and demonize me, making me a key protagonist in their Hollywood version of events.
In spite of the CAS decision, I firmly maintain my position that USADA does not have – and never had any legal authority over me. Thus, USADA never had the power to open a case against me, and less still any power to issue me with a ban of any duration.
In terms of the whole CAS appeal process, my principal defense rights, namely:
1. That there has never been any arbitration agreement between me and USADA
2. The respect of the statute of limitations
3. The right to equal treatment
4. The proportionality of the sanction have all been completely disregarded.
This whole process has been a difficult, very painful and complicated learning process for myself, but after too long a time, it is now time for me to move on. I can finally close this chapter and focus on the positive things in my future. I am still in good health, I have two beautiful, healthy children, a lot of very good friends as well as plenty of energy and ideas for the years to come.
After everything that happened, and I repeat, many of things I regret, I still love cycling with the same passion and intensity I had when I fell in love with it as a 14-year-old boy. In spite of the CAS decision, it is still my goal and my wish to contribute, to help grow my sport and make it better in the years ahead.