Multiple Grand Tour-winning directeur sportif Johan Bruyneel has been banned from cycling for ten years for doping violations by an independent panel, USADA announced today.

A three-member panel of the American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport (AAA) found former US Postal Service and Discovery Channel boss Bruyneel was ‘at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping’.

Team doctor Dr. Pedro Celaya, and trainer Jose ‘Pepe’ Marti have also been banned for their part in the violations and handed eight-year bans.

Johan Bruyneel has received a 10-year ban from cycling by the American Arbitration Association, pic: Montgomery, Wikimedia Commons

Johan Bruyneel, pic: Montgomery, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport

It takes the total number of former USPS staff to be banned up to five after Dr Michele Ferrari and Dr Luis Garcia del Moral had previously received lifetime bans.

The panel ruled Bruyneel, who was behind all seven of Lance Armstrong’s now-voided Tour de France wins, had committed offences spanning ‘many years and many riders’ and had ‘profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period’.

Eight cyclists were among the witnesses who testified under oath at the hearings, which were held in London in December 2013.

USADA CEO Travis T. Tygart said: “There is no excuse for any team director, doctor or other athlete support person who corrupts the very sport and the athletes they are supposed to protect."

After the Discovery Channel team disbanded, Bruyneel also led Astana in 2008 and 2009 before taking charge at the RadioShack Team from 2010 until the USADA case was initiated in October 2012.

A former Belgian professional, Bruyneel responded to the ban on his blog by reiterating his challenge to USADA’s authority over the case, owing to his nationality.

However he did write: “I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different.

“Nor do I dispute that doping was a fact of life in the peloton for a considerable period of time. However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation.

“There is clearly something wrong with a system that allows only six individuals to be punished as retribution for the sins of an era."

Bruyneel could challenge the decision with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but the AAA panel have confirmed USADA had authority to bring the case having discovered the violations.