USA Today reported that the boss behind Armstrong’s seven Tour de France titles, stripped later for doping, is avoiding the government and payment due as part of the whistleblower case.
The U.S. Justice Department hired legal help in Spain to serve Bruyneel at his home in Madrid, hoping to try to collect money from a fraud case stemming from 2013. The 55-year-old, who skipped out on the legal proceedings in the U.S., would not accept any documents when approached by a hired lawyer outside his home.
“Spanish counsel, using a notary, attempted to personally serve Bruyneel at his residence in San Sebastián de los Reyes, Madrid, Spain, with a copy of the documentation of these proceedings,” the U.S. Government wrote in documents filed last month in Washington, D.C., according to USA Today.
“The Spanish Notary was able to confirm that the person answering the door at the residence was Bruyneel, but Bruyneel refused to accept the documents.”
It continues the biggest doping scandal to rock professional cycling. Armstrong, who won every Tour de France from 1999 to 2005, eventually admitted to doping after the USADA investigation that showed he used EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions starting in the mid-1990s. Bruyneel “was intimately involved in all significant details of the U.S. Postal team’s doping program.”
Armstrong is now serving a lifetime ban from the sport along with his former team manager Bruyneel. With the push of Floyd Landis, the U.S. Justice Department began a fraud case against Armstrong and his team for taking taxpayers money during the time they were sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service.
Over the course of its sponsorship run, the U.S. Postal Service paid Armstrong’s cycling team $32.3 million. In April 2018, up against a $100-million fraud lawsuit, Armstrong settled with the government to pay $5 million and another $1.65 million for Landis’s legal costs.
Bruyneel managed the team from 1996 until 2004. In the 2018 ruling, Judge Christopher Cooper said, “Bruyneel unjustly received $1,228,700 in benefits.”
He has not returned to American soil and an international chase has begun. Paul Scott, who was involved in the case representing Landis, explained, “He can continue running as long as he likes, but this judgment will ultimately catch up to him.”
Last year, the government tried to serve legal documents, as well. It gave Bruyneel another chance to fight the case, which led to another attempt to serve him.
“The United States wishes to grant Bruyneel a final opportunity to appear in the proceedings,” U.S. government attorneys stated in court documents. If he fails to respond, it is unclear what steps the Justice Department will take next.
The former professional and Tour de France stage winner has appeared on Armstrong’s podcast. At the time of the 2018 ruling, he 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.”