Lance Armstrong calls Johan Bruyneel ‘greatest sports director of all time’ after former manager banned for life

The pair joked about both being banned for life on Armstrong’s podcast

Lance Armstrong and team manager Johan Bruyneel in 2009
Photo : Yuzuru SUNADA

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

Lance Armstrong has called his former manager Johan Bruyneel “the greatest sports director of all time,” after the Belgian was banned from cycling for life.

Bruyneel, who worked with Armstrong at the US Postal Team, was banned for life for his involvement in systematic doping between 1999 and 2006.

Speaking on the podcast, Armstrong said: “Welcome to the show my good friend, the greatest cycling sports director of all time without a doubt, I don’t give a sh*t what anybody says, Johan Bruyneel.”

Last Wednesday, the Court of Arbitration for Sport announced it had concluded an appeal around Bruyneel’s case and had decided to up his punishment from a 10-year ban to life.

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The court also banned US Postal colleagues doctor Pedro Celaya Lezama for life, and trainer Jose Marti Marti for 15 years.

In a statement posted online last week, Bruyneel said he accepted mistakes had been made in the past but added “we were all children of our era.”

Discussing Bruyneel’s lifetime bad, Armstrong said: “I know you’re bummed about that and I’m sorry.

“I loved your statement you put up on Instagram acknowledging the crazy and f*cked up era we lived in.

“If Johan got a one year ban it wouldn’t have mattered, because the way sport reacted and the media reacted, you and I weren’t going to get jobs anyway.

“You could get zero ban but if nobody is going to give you a job then that’s a lifetime ban.

“To me there’s really no difference.”

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In its case against Armstrong in 2012, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) showed that the Bruyneel helped and encouraged his riders at teams US Postal Service and Discovery Channel to dope.

Doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer, Jose ‘Pepe’ Martí  were banned for eight years each at the time.

Armstrong was banned from cycling for life and stripped of his seven Tour titles.

Bruyneel’s ban was due to end on June 11, 2022.

He was informed of his lifetime ban in an email from the CAS last Wednesday.

Speaking on Armstrong’s podcast, Bruyneel called USADA’s report a “Hollywood novel” and said the process had been one-sided.

He said: “I know for a fact for USADA and for WADA, this whole situation has never been about anti-doping.

“It was always about get Lance and get Johan and take the trophy away.

“Finally they got me, so now they’re happy.

“But really I don’t see how banning you and me and some other people in our team has changed anything or has made things better.”

He added: “At the end of the day, I think it’s too simple of an outcome to try and blame the problems of the past, problems from several generations on two guys.

“I fully acknowledge what those times were like, and take big responsibility for certain actions.”

Bruyneel also raised concerns about the process, questioning whether an American organisation like USADA has jurisdiction over a Belgian citizen.

The CAS said the Bruyneel was at the top of “one of the largest doping programs which ever existed in any sport.”

THEMOVE is Armstrong’s cycling podcast, that features interviews, course previews and race analysis from the stripped seven-time Tour winner and co-host JB Hager.

Armstrong and Bruyneel finish the segment by jokingly asking if Hager has ever been banned from anything for life.

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