Former Lance mentor fired
Johan Bruyneel (Gallo Images)
Paris - Johan Bruyneel, disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong's former manager during his drug-tainted seven Tour de France wins, has left his current team RadioShack, the Luxembourg outfit announced on Friday.
The decision comes just two days after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) condemned Armstrong for being at the heart of the biggest doping conspiracy in sports history.
"I am surprised and extremely disappointed that USADA released information in the public domain relating to their pending case against me before I had been given any opportunity to review the evidence and provide my defence against it," said Bruyneel.
"I still hope to be able to defend myself in a forum free from bias, although I now fear that USADA's calculated action may have irreversibly prejudiced my case.
"It is a troubling facet of USADA's approach to this case that it appears not to respect basic principles such as the right to be heard and the presumption of innocence."
Earlier, RadioShack said the decision to part ways with Bruyneel was taken to protect the standing of the team.
"From this day on, Johan Bruyneel will no longer act in the position of general manager of cycling team RadioShack Nissan Trek," a statement said on the team's website.
"The decision published by the USADA included a number of testimonies as a result of their investigation.
"In light of these testimonies, both parties feel it is necessary to make this decision since Johan Bruyneel can no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way.
"His departure is desirable to ensure the serenity and cohesiveness within the team.
"RadioShack Nissan Trek wishes to thank Johan Bruyneel for his dedication and devotion since his arrival.
"The USADA investigation does not concern the activities of Mr Bruyneel while managing the RadioShack Nissan Trek team. Johan Bruyneel contests the validity of the procedure as well as the charges against him."
Earlier on Friday, the four-time world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara said he might have had to consider his position with the RadioShack team if 48-year-old Bruyneel had remained in charge.
RadioShack is also the team of Andy and Frank Schleck.
Andy Schleck was declared the winner of the 2010 Tour de France after Spain's Alberto Contador was stripped of the title for doping.
Bruyneel, who quit as a rider in 1998, was the sporting director at Armstrong's US Postal team from 1999 to 2005, as well as at the Astana team in 2009 and at RadioShack in 2010, when the American returned to the saddle.
The Belgian, who is one of six people accused by USADA in the Armstrong affair, protested his innocence in June.
On Wednesday, the Belgian Cycling Federation (RLVB) said they would study the USADA report.