LONDON (AP) — Lance Armstrong's longtime coach came to his defense on Friday, saying the Texan is the victim of an "unjust" legal case that is likely to cost him his seven Tour de France victories.
Johan Bruyneel said he is "disappointed" for Armstrong, who denies doping but has chosen not to pursue arbitration in the drug case brought against him by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.
USADA wants Armstrong banned from all sports and stripped of his record run of Tour wins from 1999-2005, plus other race results including an Olympic bronze medal in the time trial at the 2000 Sydney Games.
"I'm disappointed for Lance and for cycling in general that things have reached a stage where Lance feels that he has had enough and is no longer willing to participate in USADA's campaign against him," Bruyneel wrote on his personal website.
"Lance has never withdrawn from a fair fight in his life so his decision today underlines what an unjust process this has been."
The Belgian, who manages the Radioshack Nissan-Trek team, has his own legal battle with USADA. He has opted for arbitration to fight charges that he led doping programs for Armstrong's teams.
"I hope that it will soon be determined that the case that USADA initiated against me should never have gotten as far as it has," Bruyneel wrote.
Bruyneel is among Armstrong's closest friends and confidants, and coached the U.S. Postal Service and Discovery Channel teams that dominated cycling's signature race during Armstrong's reign.