Ex-Armstrong team leader to skip doping hearing

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Associated Press

Posted on January 28, 2013 at 11:02 AM

BRUSSELS (AP) — Johan Bruyneel, Lance Armstrong's former team leader, will not appear at a hearing Tuesday to discuss his role in the doping scandal.

Belgian cycling federation prosecutor Jaak Fransen said Monday he will consider pursuing the case without Bruyneel.

"Whether this is a delay tactic or not, that I cannot say," Fransen said by phone to The Associated Press.

During a 2010 hearing, Bruyneel denied all doping allegations made by disgraced cyclist Floyd Landis against Armstrong. No disciplinary action was taken.

Fransen previously invited Bruyneel to explain himself after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency charged in October that the Belgian was a central figure in Armstrong's doping programs. He was called again to appear after Armstrong acknowledged in an interview with Oprah Winfrey that he had doped.

On both occasions, no meeting took place.

"As of yet, I do not consider this as noncooperation," Fransen said. "In the past, he always said he would be willing to cooperate. We will look if we can proceed without his attendance."

Bruyneel has been among Armstrong's closest friends and confidants. He coached the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams that dominated the Tour de France during Armstrong's seven-victory reign.

Armstrong has said Bruyneel was like "a brother," and one of the most influential people in his career. As a result, it has been assumed Bruyneel must at least have known and likely been an accomplice in the doping scandal. Bruyneel intends to fight the USADA accusations and is seeking arbitration.

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