On a day that Johan Bruyneel was anticipated to hit the news as he was to face an arbitration hearing contesting his lifetime ban from cycling, silence permeated.
Two separate United States Anti-Doping Agency staffers — CEO Travis Tygart and media relations manager Annie Skinner — both declined to comment on the Bruyneel case in recent days.
It was initially reported that the Belgian, who helped guide Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France wins on three different teams, had elected to fight USADA on his role in what the organizational dubbed a years-long doping conspiracy.
Bruyneel’s arbitration hearing — along with that of former Armstrong team doctors Pedro Celaya and Jose “Pepe” Marti — was reported to begin Monday in London, but any sort of clarity on the matter was in short supply by Monday night here in the United States. Cycling insiders had opined that Bruyneel wouldn’t really take his fight to USADA, and Bruyneel himself declared he was “done” with the sport.
If he doesn’t contest the charges against him — and he may have already abandoned his defense — he would most likely be forced to accept a lifetime ban from the sport. USADA asserts that it has the right to impose bans on the Europeans, citing domestic links to sponsorships and Armstrong, and argues further that a lifetime ban was well within reason for the depth and depravity of what the agency described as a “doping conspiracy.”
VeloNews will cover more of the Bruyneel story as it unfolds.