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Cycling | International

Johan Bruyneel and Lance Armstrong © Gallo Images

Bruyneel won't appear at Belgian doping hearing



Lance Armstrong's former team leader, Johan Bruyneel, will not appear at a hearing Tuesday to discuss his role in the doping scandal, a Belgian prosecutor said on Monday.

Belgian cycling federation prosecutor Jaak Fransen said he will consider whether to pursue the case without Bruyneel attending.

"Whether this is a delay tactic or not, that I cannot say," Fransen said in a telephone interview with 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 US 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 admitted 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 non-cooperation," 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, and coached the US 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 that Bruyneel must at least have known and likely been an accomplice in the doping scandal.

While Armstrong has confessed to doping, Bruyneel intends to fight the USADA accusations and is opting for arbitration.



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