April 22 - Three men who worked with Lance Armstrong during his Tour de France cheating have been handed bans for their role in the "widespread" use of drugs in the US Postal Service (USPS) cycling team.
Team director Johan Bruyneel, team doctor Pedro Celaya and team trainer Jose "Pepe" Martí have all been found to have "committed multiple anti-doping rule violations over many years".
The three-man American Arbitration Association North American Court of Arbitration for Sport panel has banned Bruyneel for ten years, while Dr Celaya and Marti have been handed eight-year bans.
"The evidence establishes conclusively that Mr Bruyneel was at the apex of a conspiracy to commit widespread doping on the USPS and Discovery Channel teams spanning many years and many riders," the panel found.
"Similarly, Dr Celaya and Mr Martí were part of, or at least allowed themselves to be used as instruments of, that conspiracy."
In 2005, the USPS was renamed Discovery Channel until the team disbanded in 2007.
American Armstrong "won" the Tour de France seven times between 1999 and 2005, but was stripped of those titles in 2012 by the International Cycling Union when doping offences were uncovered.
Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), said: "From the beginning, our investigation has focused on ridding cycling of those entrusted to care for the well-being of athletes who abuse their position of trust and influence to assist or encourage the use of performance-enhancing drugs to defraud sport and clean athletes.
"There is no excuse for any team director, doctor or other athlete support person who corrupts the very sport and the athletes they are supposed to protect."
The panel found Bruyneel trafficked in performance-enhancing drugs and "was engaged in the allocation of team-related resources...causing a variety of prohibited doping substances and methods to be used expressly for the purpose of gaining an unfair advantage for the teams and cyclists he managed in cycling events".
It also found that Bruyneel "profited considerably from the successes of the teams and riders he managed during the relevant period".
Bruyneel encouraged athletes to use doping products including erythropoietin (EPO), blood transfusions, testosterone, and cortisone.
The 49-year-old, who lives in London, is a former Belgian cyclist who was USPS team director from 1999 to 2007.
In 2008 and 2009, he was director of the Astana Cycling Team.
In 2010 he became team director of the RadioShack Team until USADA's case was initiated in 2012.
Spaniard Dr Celaya was team doctor for the USPS team in 1997 and 1998, and again from 2004 to 2007.
He continued to work in cycling as a team doctor for the RadioShack Nissan Trek Cycling Team until USADA's case was initiated.
The panel found that team trainer Martí trafficked performance enhancing drugs, including EPO, human growth hormone (hGH), testosterone and cortisone to riders.
Martí was involved in administering injections of these drugs and in transfusing blood to riders.
He worked with the USPS team from 1999 to 2007 and then with the Astana Cycling Team.
The "evidentiary" hearing was held in London in December 2013, and Bruyneel, Celaya and Marti were collectively represented by seven lawyers.
Testimony was received from 17 witnesses, including eight cyclists.
Bruyneel and Marti refused to testify.
Dr Celaya did testify before the Panel, which concluded he was not "a credible witness in this case".
Italian Michele Ferrari and Spaniard Dr Luis Garcia del Moral received lifetime suspensions in 2012, meaning a total of five athlete support personnel from the USPS team have now been suspended for anti-doping rule violations.
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