By Graham Dunbar
The Associated Press
GENEVA — Lance Armstrong’s former manager Johan Bruyneel left the RadioShack-Nissan team Friday after he was singled out as a central figure in the former Tour de France champion’s doping program.
The RadioShack-Nissan team said the decision was by “mutual agreement,” adding Bruyneel “can no longer direct the team in an efficient and comfortable way.”
“His departure is desirable to ensure the serenity and cohesiveness within the team,” it said in a statement.
Bruyneel said he was leaving to “concentrate on my defense,” having chosen an arbitration hearing to fight charges leveled by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
Armstrong was banned from Olympic sports for life by USADA and stripped of his seven Tour titles after choosing in August not to contest the allegations, including that he used and supplied banned drugs.
Friday’s announcement came two days after USADA’s damning report on Armstrong exposed the doping program in the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams that Bruyneel managed when Armstrong rode to seven straight Tour de France victories from 1999-2005.
“In light of these testimonies, both parties feel it is necessary to make this decision,” RadioShack said. Its sponsors include longtime Armstrong backers Nike, Trek, Oakley and Livestrong.
Bruyneel, who was general manager of the Luxembourg-based team, now has his own legal battle with USADA. The agency placed him at the heart of doping programs for Armstrong’s teams through the rider’s second retirement in 2010.
“I am surprised and extremely disappointed that USADA released information in the public domain relating to their pending case against me before I had been given any opportunity to review the evidence and provide my defense against it,” Bruyneel said.
“I still hope to be able to defend myself in a forum free from bias, although I now fear that USADA’s calculated action may have irreversibly prejudiced my case,” he said in a statement on his personal website.
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