Suspended for life following the famous doping scandal, Lance Armstrong’s former manager Johan Bruyneel spoke in an interview about his controversial past.
“Clean you can’t beat the other favorites when they’re doped. Doping back then was one of the rules of the game, except it wasn’t written down”, says now Bruyneel.
“We all knew there is a risk that someone will one day break the law of silence. But I never thought it would lead to such fierceness against Lance and I. At one point, it took someone of a certain celebrity to serve as an example, to be sacrificed, and Armstrong was the perfect target”.
“When you arrived in the pro peloton, you joined a world that puts you very quickly facing a dilemma: either you adapt and you dope or you disappear. The first year is difficult, but you hang on, then you realize during your second year that those who were with you at the amateurs, now they drop you off. All of a sudden you see guys around you who become machines at the Tour de France, whereas the rest of the year… If you are not dropped, if you stay around 60th place, you can consider yourself happy. So what do you do? You could say no, but then you know that you are failing, you give up on your job, your vocation, you put in the trash these long years of suffering and deprivation to reach the professional peloton”, he added.
According to Bruyneel, the leaders of the UCI knew very well what was happening in the peloton regarding doping, as did the journalists.
“Of course they (the UCI leaders) knew. But they did everything in their power. There was no clinical method to detect EPO, so they introduced the rule of thumb, hematocrit limited to 50% which proves that they were aware that the doping product was circulating. After that, it was the blood transfusions, undetectable. So what to do?”.
“All the journalists knew. A few let go. But all the others, they were silent. They didn’t want to dirty the sport they were covering, they were too afraid of losing audience.”