- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lance Armstrong’s longtime coach, Johan Bruyneel, was banned for 10 years on Tuesday for helping to organize massive doping on teams led by the disgraced cyclist.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency announced the verdicts of an American Arbitration Association panel against Bruyneel and two medical staff, completing its lengthy investigation which saw Armstrong banished from cycling in 2012.

Bruyneel “was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the (U.S. Postal Service) and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders,” USADA said in a statement.

Team doctor Pedro Celaya and trainer Jose “Pepe” Marti will serve eight-year bans.

Bruyneel claimed he, Armstrong and the others have been made scapegoats for an era when doping was “a fact of life” in cycling.

“I do not dispute that there are certain elements of my career that I wish had been different,” Bruyneel said in a statement. “However, a very small minority of us has been used as scapegoats for an entire generation.”

Armstrong’s lawyer, Tim Herman, declined to comment on the case to The Associated Press.

As a Belgian national, Bruyneel questioned USADA’s right to prosecute him and said he would consider appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti faced charges including trafficking and administering doping products and methods, including EPO, blood transfusions, testosterone, human growth hormone and cortisone.

The ruling said Bruyneel encouraged his riders to cheat, and Levi Leipheimer, one of eight former Armstrong teammates who gave evidence, testified to the director’s “integral role” managing the doping program.

“Specifically, Mr. Leipheimer stated that Mr. Bruyneel ‘was the boss; people who took actions only did so from his instructions,’” the AAA stated in its 112-page published ruling.

The verdicts followed a four-day hearing in London last December before a three-member AAA panel.

“The panel found that Bruyneel himself ‘profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period,’” the USADA statement said.

Bruyneel refused to testify and “presented no fact witnesses on his own behalf,” USADA said.

Marti also refused to testify, while Celaya was cross examined and found by the panel not to be a credible witness, the ruling said.

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