It’s been a few turbulent days within the RadioShack-Nissan organization.
Not only did the team’s Tour de France hopes take a huge blow when three-time podium man Andy Schleck announced on Wednesday that injuries would sideline him for four-to-six weeks; Wednesday’s devastating accusations leveled against Johan Bruyneel by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency have only knocked the team further off balance.
The claims against Bruyneel date from 1999 to 2011 — his years as sport director at U.S. Postal Service, Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack — and are not linked to his current management role with the merger between RadioShack and Leopard-Trek starting this season.
In light of the shocking accusations leveled against Bruyneel, however, there is some speculation that the Belgian might step down from an active role within the team.
Right now, it seems as though everyone within the RadioShack-Nissan organization is battening down the hatches.
When contacted by VeloNews on Thursday, however, team officials refused to comment on Bruyneel’s status within the squad. UCI officials also could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
There has been no official reaction from Bruyneel following the leak of a 15-page letter sent by USADA on Tuesday to Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong and four others implicated in the anti-doping case.
Bruyneel was scheduled to travel to the Tour de Suisse on Wednesday. So far, it appears Bruyneel has not spoken publicly about the allegations that he was part of a widespread doping conspiracy throughout his relationship with Armstrong.
Horner back for Tour?
In other team news, there are some suggestions that Chris Horner might be considered for the Tour de France squad after all.
Earlier this week, fans were outraged when the popular American was left off a 14-man long list of riders under consideration for the nine-man selection to start the Tour on June 30 in Belgium.
Bruyneel told VeloNews on Tuesday that he left Horner out of Tour consideration because he had opted to not race the Tour de Suisse this week. A team press officer told VeloNews earlier in the week that the decision was tied to a lingering back injury.
Horner told VeloNews that a minor back problem that flared up in May was no longer an issue and he was fit and ready to race the Tour.
Bruyneel countered that riders hoping to go to the Tour this year had to either ride the Swiss tour or the Critérium du Dauphiné. All riders on the team’s Tour list did so, except German veteran Jens Voigt, who did not race either of those two events yet still made the team’s long list for the Tour.
In light of news that Andy Schleck would be unable to start the Tour due to injuries, there seems to be a possible opening for Horner.
Team spokesman Philippe Maertens told VeloNews on Thursday that a Horner return could happen.
“In theory, it’s possible,” he said. “Right now, he’s now out of the (Tour) team, but maybe something can change. It’s a decision made by the team management. They’re going to (decide) after the Tour de Suisse.”
RadioShack-Nissan officials said a Tour selection would be announced following the conclusion of the Tour de Suisse on Sunday.