BRUSSELS (AFP) — Belgian Johan Bruyneel, former sport director of Lance Armstrong and his assorted teams, denies being a “demon,” and said he “never put anyone’s health at risk,” in an interview with a Belgian publication published Tuesday.
“I can look the whole world right in the eye. I never put anyone’s health at risk,” he told Humo, a Belgian weekly radio and television magazine, in response to accusations of U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), which painted a grim picture of the Belgian’s actions during Armstrong’s reign.
In a report released late last year, USADA claimed that Bruyneel and his teams pressured younger riders, such as Christian Vande Velde and Dave Zabriskie, to use doping products. A detailed, nine-page section of USADA’s reasoned decision was titled, “Johan Bruyneel’s involvement in doping.”
“My mother called me in tears because she read something unpleasant about me, it breaks my heart,” Bruyneel said, adding that his lawyers told him to “shut up” in the wake of the allegations. “I am eager to speak my mind but my lawyers have instructed me to stay quiet,” he added.
“I can only say one thing: I’m not a demon or anything whatsoever. The public may think otherwise but it will have a more accurate view of the situation forward and review its judgment. USADA claims that I am the mastermind behind the most sophisticated doping case in cycling history, but this is not the case, ” Bruyneel said.
Bruyneel was fired by the RadioSchack team in 2012 after the revelations of USADA, and is now unemployed.
The Belgian also claimed that none of the doping allegations against him and Armstrong would have ever come to light if they had cooperated with Floyd Landis’ demands to offer him a spot on their team in the spring of 2010, following his return in 2009 from a two-year doping suspension. Landis is currently suing Armstrong and Bruyneel in a federal lawsuit that the U.S. Department of Justice joined in February.
“If Armstrong had not come back, and if I had included Landis in the squad again, all of this would never have happened. I am convinced of that. Without those two facts, we would be talking completely differently,” Bruyneel said.