Armstrong’s cycling coach Bruyneel gets 10-year doping ban

Lance Armstrong’s longtime coach Johan Bruyneel was banned for 10 years Tuesday for helping organize widespread doping by the former seven-time Tour de France winner’s cycling teams.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced the verdicts of an American Arbitration Association panel against Bruyneel and two medical staff.

Bruyneel "was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the (U.S. Postal Service) and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders," USADA said in a statement.

Team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose "Pepe" Marti will serve eight-year bans, USADA said.

Bruyneel claimed he, Armstrong and the others have been made scapegoats for an era when doping was "a fact of life" in cycling.

"I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different," Bruyneel said in a statement. "However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation. "

As a Belgian national, Bruyneel questioned USADA’s right to prosecute him and said he would consider appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti faced charges including trafficking and administering doping products and methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, human growth hormone and cortisone. The ruling said Bruyneel had encouraged riders to cheat.

The verdicts followed a four-day hearing in London last December before a three-member AAA panel.

"The panel found that Bruyneel himself ‘profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period,’" the USADA statement said.

Bruyneel refused to testify and "presented no fact witnesses on his own behalf," USADA said.

Marti also refused to testify, while Celaya was cross examined and found by the panel not to be a credible witness, the agency said.

Bruyneel is banned from working in all sports through June 11, 2022. Celaya and Marti’s sanctions end on June 11, 2020.

The sanctions date from June 2012 when USADA accused Armstrong and his teams of widespread doping after a lengthy investigation.

Armstrong was stripped several weeks later of all his post-August 1998 race results, including all seven Tour titles, and banned for life by USADA. Doctors Michele Ferrari and Luis Garcia del Moral also did not challenge USADA’s findings and lifetime bans.

In October 2012, USDA published its detailed verdict with hundreds of pages of evidence documenting the doping conspiracy, including witness statements from several Armstrong teammates.

At Bruyneel’s closed-door hearing in London, 17 witness provided testimony, including eight cyclists, USADA said.

Celaya was doctor for the USPS/Discovery Channel team from 1997-98 and from 2004-07. He returned to work with Bruyneel at RadioShack Nissan Trek as the USADA investigation continued.

Marti worked for Bruyneel from 1999 to 2007, and then with the Astana team.

USADA said that Marti worked "most recently" for the Denmark-based Team Saxo Bank-Tinkoff Bank team, which is managed by 1996 Tour winner Bjarne Riis.