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Johan Bruyneel ordered to pay $1.2m to US government

Joe Robinson
24 Aug 2018

Court order to Armstrong team manger could draw line under US postal service saga

In what could be one of the final legal acts of the Lance Armstrong saga, former team manager Johan Bruyneel has been ordered to pay US$1.2 million in sponsorship money back to the US government.

This follows the $6.65 million Armstrong settled on with the US government and former teammate turned whistleblower, Floyd Landis, as a result of the five-year case led by the US Justice Department's False Claims Act.

Landis argued that taxpayers were cheated as their money was used to fund the US Postal team between 1999 and 2004, which operated one of the sport's largest and most systematic doping programmes in order to win six of seven consecutive Tour de France titles for Armstrong between through to 2004.

Armstrong was eventually stripped of these seven titles in 2012 following a ruling by the US Anti-Doping Agency.

Now Armstrong's team manager and figurehead of the US Postal regime Bruyneel has been demanded to pay a further $1.2 million to the US government and $369,000 in civil penalties. 

In line with this decision, US District Judge Christopher Cooper commented that this marks an end to the watershed ruling.

'This ruling marks the finish line of a lawsuit brought by Floyd Landis and the federal government to recover money paid by the US Postal Service to sponsor a professional cycling team featuring Lance Armstrong,' Cooper stated.

The case began five years ago when multiple teammates testified to the doping regime in place at both the US Postal team and Discovery Channel.

This spurred Armstrong to confess but also for former teammate Landis to open court proceedings with the US Government.

Originally, the government and Landis sought triple the six-year sponsorship fee of $32.3 million from Armstrong but eventually both parties settled on the much smaller figure of $6.65 million.

The decision to seek payment from Bruyneel follows a judge ruling that the Belgian 'directed' the doping scheme of USPS and that large parts of his $2 million total salary was provided by the US Postal Service.

While Armstrong is serving a life ban from cycling, Bruyneel is four years into a 10 year ban. This has seen the Belgian absent from the sport since 2012, in which he managed RadioShack-Nissan, although he has continued his commentary on modern cycling. 

Bruyneel has admitted to the mistakes and damage of his and USPS's actions but maintains that he and Armstrong have been made scapegoats for the era's doping past.

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