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by Shane Stokes
June 10, 2015
Photography by Cor Vos
While Johan Bruyneel’s appearance in the VIP section of Bradley Wiggins’ hour record bid drew criticism, with many stating that the banned Belgian’s presence in the trackside centre was difficult to stomach, the World Anti Doping Agency has confirmed that such a case would not violate the terms of standard suspensions.
In April 2014 Bruyneel was handed a ten year ban from cycling by the American Arbitration Association in relation to the Lance Armstrong/US Postal Service doping case.
This imposes strict limitations on his involvement in high level sport but, according to WADA, situations such as his Sunday appearance would not cross lines.
The agency said that it couldn’t comment specifically on the case as it is involved in an ongoing matter with the Belgian. However it gave general clarification about its regulations and when it considers such bans to have been violated.
“Article 10.12.1 of the Code prohibits any athlete or other person subject to a period of ineligibility from participating in any capacity in a competition or activity authorized or organized by any of the entities mentioned therein,” said a spokesman.
“As such, WADA does not consider that a person’s presence at an event is a violation of the prohibition against participation as long as the individual is merely present as a spectator and is not participating in any manner whatsoever.”
The unease for some of seeing Bruyneel at the successful hour record attempt in London’s Lee Valley VeloPark was compounded both by his presence in the VIP section and also by a photograph showing the Belgian and former UCI president Pat McQuaid laughing together.
Both McQuaid and his predecessor Hein Verbruggen had been accused of having too-close a relationship with Armstrong and his teams during their reigns as presidents of the UCI.
The Cycling Independent Reform Commission (CIRC) agreed with this in March, saying that the UCI had not shown expected impartiality in their dealings with the American rider.
On Monday, Bruyneel reacted to criticism of his attendance by insisting he had done nothing wrong.
“4 the record, I bought my tickets. Do you want to prohibit me from buying tickets & go see a sporting event? #GetOverIt,” he tweeted to multiple people who had drawn attention to his presence.
WADA has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in a bid to try to have his ten year ban extended. Bruyneel is thought to have lodged a separate appeal to have it reduced.
WADA is also seeking to increase eight year bans given by the AAA to former US Postal Service workers Pedro Celaya and Pepe Marti, who were a coach and doctor with the team.
A hearing was due to be held on March 2 but there has been little news since. It is not clear when a final decision will be rendered.