Johan Bruyneel will not attend this year’s Tour de France in the wake of USADA announcing their intention to charge him for years of doping offences.
Bruyneel, who was director sportive for Lance Armstrong on each of his seven Tour victories, received a letter from USADA on June 12, along with Armstrong and several team doctors from US Postal and Discovery Channel, informing him of the charges.
Bruyneel has denied any wrong doing, as has Armstrong, but said yesterday in a statement on his website that attending the Tour would an unwelcome distraction for his RadioShack team.
His statement went on to say; “This is why I’ve decided – after consulting with the Team’s main sponsors and in agreement with the Senior Management of Leopard – not to attend the race. It is unfortunate that these latest, unfounded accusations have resulted in my withdrawal from the Tour, although I hope to prove my innocence and resolve this matter soon and once and for all.”
Whether or not Bruyneel is found guilty, his position at RadioShack, and the future of the team itself, is becoming increasingly untenable. The American team has had a dire year results wise and the Belgian has had public spats with his riders. Frank Schleck was unhappy at being selected for the Giro d’Italia in May, and when he pulled out with a shoulder injury Bruyneel publicly criticised him.
Bruyneel was then unhappy with Andy Schleck’s lack of form at the Criterium du Dauphine, only to then lose Andy from his Tour team after a crash ended with a fractured veterbrae.
He then fell out with the team’s highest profile American rider Chris Horner. Horner wasn’t named on RadioShack’s Tour long list with the team claiming he had a back injury. Horner denied this, only for Bruyneel to change tack and say he was left out due to the fact he didn’t ride either the Dauphine or the Tour de Suisse for the team.
A week later Horner was named in RadioShack’s Tour team after Bruyneel was seemingly over-ruled, presumably by the (American) sponsor who wanted at least one American rider in the team.
The team is owned by Luxembourg businessman Flavio Becca who may be growing tired after another year with few results. After Leopard-Trek’s first disappointing year he made sweeping changes and brought in Bruyneel and much of his RadioShack, post-Lance, baggage. Rumours have already surfaced of the Schlecks speaking with Liquigas regarding next year, and with Bruyneel facing such serious charges, the end of the RadioShack team seems to be on the cards.