Former manager of Lance Armstrong says he won't be attending any further cycling events after a backlash ensued when he was spotted at Bradley Wiggins's Hour Record attempt in June

Lance Armstrong’s former team manager Johan Bruyneel does not plan on attending the Tour de France or any other cycling events in the wake of his controversial presence at Bradley Wiggins’s UCI Hour Record attempt.

The banned manager sparked a media storm on June 7 when he was photographed laughing and drinking with former UCI president Pat McQuaid in a VIP in-field space during the attempt at London’s Lee Valley Velopark.

Retired pro and reformed anti-doping advocate David Millar was pictured in the background of the tongue-in-cheek shot, which was published on Twitter with the caption “#photobomb”.

The public disagreement follows similar backlash from Armstrong’s move to participate in a charity ride at the Tour de France next month, which critics have argued would be a regressive step for the sport trying desperately to improve its tainted image.

Bruyneel declined an interview request made via email on Tuesday but made several points in which he defended his image that has been damaged since his dismissal from the sport and reiterated his right to attend the Hour Record in the capital he resides.

“I’m not planning on attending the Tour de France. I’m not planning on attending other cycling events either,” he said.

“The Wiggins event was the first and only event I’ve been at in almost three years. Everyone I saw at the event, who I knew, [were] very friendly and welcoming, including Miguel Indurain and some other ex-colleagues.

“The ones who needed to avoid me have made sure to do so, like David Millar, who was silly enough to go pose in a staged picture of Pat McQuaid and myself, taken and posted by his sister [Fran].

“In general, away from cycling events, people have been very kind and friendly on a personal level. I haven’t met one single person with a negative attitude towards me.”

Former footballer Geoff Thomas invited Armstrong to join him for a couple of days at the ride in France that will see riders tackle each stage one day before the pro peloton does in an effort to raise money for Cure Leukaemia. Incumbent UCI president Brian Cookson in March branded the proposition of Armstrong being effectively at the Tour as “disrespectful”.

“I’m sure Geoff Thomas means well but frankly I think that’s completely inappropriate. I think it’s very disrespectful to the Tour de France,” Cookson said.

Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel, Tour de France 2003

Bruyneel celebrates Tour de France victory with Armstrong in 2003. Both would later receive bans for doping (Watson)

Bruyneel guided Armstrong to seven consecutive Tour titles, which the American was stripped of in 2012 when a US inquiry concluded he and his teams “ran the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”.

The Belgian is serving a 10-year ban from any sport for his involvement that the American Arbitration Association (AAA) last year issued on the back of evidence it said proved that the 50-year-old was “at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the USPS and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders”.

The ban will end on June 11, 2022.

“I will not do an interview since each time I do so quotes are taken out of context and go lead a life of their own,” Bruyneel concluded. “… I’m working on a book in which I will explain my whole side of the story.

“I hope that people, especially journalists, will want to read it with an open mind.”

  • dragonsheart

    Not if you consider Pbody might actually be LA, or at least smart money says he’s on the juice. (probably both)

  • NitroFan

    Astonishing! either a troll or a fool.

  • NitroFan

    Good to see the “we do not want cheats in the sport” mesage is getting through, excellent news.

  • Daniel Healy

    Society is now full of contradicting morals. Capitalism/money naturally breeds win-at-all-costs mentality and hence corruption. Applies to all sports, not just cycling, but cycling and athletics = simpler dimension where drugs are formidable. Couple in the fact that cycling is much more entertaining when the riders are “superhuman”. (E.g. Lance blitzing up a hill away from the rest).
    Yet people still stick to traditional morals of no cheating and honesty when we’ve really moved way beyond this. Not just sport – our system is full of dishonesty and immorality.

  • Zogzog

    What blows me away, is why people like you can make statements like that? Why should all drug cheats be treated the same, when it depends upon who comes clean first and who cooperates with authorities (like Lance didn’t). Lance was literally the last person on his team (US Postal) to come forward. In a Lance interview (2009 Interbike interview on youtube), Lance himself said that all drug cheats should be banned when asked what should be done with the cheats (before getting caught). Now that he is caught, he wants to withdraw his comments.

  • Bob

    nay nay and thrice nay – just because its hard to stamp it out totally doesn’t mean you should stop trying – its bad enough now with the cycling=drugs association, especially from people who know little about the sport, but I do feel the corner has been turned and its becoming less attractive year on year, but there will always be some who want to take a shortcut whatever you do

  • Bob

    if you haven’t read ‘put me back on my bike’ you have to do so – Ok it was different times but the reported consumption of drugs from reputable sources is mind blowing

  • Vespertine

    Agreed, the hypocrisy here is eye watering. Fran Miller is all about PR and she is very very good at it.

  • Pbody

    I think we should allow cheating and let the best of the best fight it out! Then when it is all said and done, no one can claim that one rider or team or manager had an advantage over the others. If some riders die because of the drugs then so be it! We the public want to see “real” competition with superhuman participants!

  • Kevino Daviessss

    David Miller! Pillar of cycling society, it amazes me in this sport how people are treated different for same drug offences .. Tom Simpson saluted every year yet others pillared.
    Bam all cheats for life, then same rule applies for all, how many drug cheats are still cycling in this years Tour de France?