Italian investigators reported as tracing $465,000 payment from Armstrong to Ferrari in 2006
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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Italian investigators reported as tracing $465,000 payment from Armstrong to Ferrari in 2006

by Shane Stokes at 7:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Money movements may be part of USADA’s move against US Postal Service team

Lance ArmstrongAlthough witness statements are expected to form a large part of USADA’s case against Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and four others connected to the US Postal Service team, investigators from the US and elsewhere are looking at other angles too.

La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that a long investigation into Michelle Ferrari by the Padua prosecutor Benedetto Roberti have shown the transferral of large sums of money. One payment of $465,000 was reportedly made by Armstrong to Ferrari in 2006.

Roberti and his team have used wiretaps, email analysis and also examination of bank accounts to build a case against Ferrari, who was previously banned from working with athletes in Italy. La Gazzetta states that approximately 90 cyclists are involved, as well as a sum of €30 million.

Armstrong retired from the sport in 2005, and so it is not clear why he would have paid money to Ferrari in 2006. However he won a court case against the company SCA Promotions in 2006 over an unpaid bonus for winning his sixth Tour in 2004.

SCA Promotions argued that it had concerns the victories were not clean, but because this stipulation was not part of the original contract, the argument was dismissed.

The 2006 ruling awarded Armstrong the original sum of $5 million, as well as an additional $2.5 in interest and legal fees. Investigators will presumably seek to determine if the sum transferred could be linked to a percentage of this bonus.

Italian connection:

Having first started working with the Italian prior to being diagnosed with cancer in 1996, Armstrong resumed their collaboration when he returned to the sport in 1998. Ferrari’s reputation led to some criticism of this relationship, with Greg LeMond amongst those speaking out, but Armstrong defended the doctor and said that he was a honourable man.

However in 2004 the Texan stated that he was ending his and US Postal’s working relationship with Ferrari when the Italian was convicted for sporting fraud and illegally acting as a pharmacist. [He was cleared in 2006 due to the statute of limitations – ed.] Despite that, Ferrari said in a December 2009 interview with the Italian Cycling Pro magazine that he had actually continued working with the Texan until he retired in 2005.

He said then that the Texan was the last high profile rider he had worked with, yet Alexandre Vinokourov told media prior to the start of the 2007 Tour de France that Ferrari was his coach. The Kazakh rider was later thrown out of the race and given a two year ban after testing positive for a blood transfusion.

Last year Italian media reported that Armstrong had met Ferrari on numerous occasions after his return to cycling in 2009. His spokesman Mark Fabiani confirmed that meetings had taken place, but said that they were not linked to the sport. “Lance has not had a professional relationship with Dr. Ferrari since 2004, but he remains friends with the doctor's family and sees them every once in a while,” he said then. “Lance last saw Dr. Ferrari about a year ago.”

Subsequently, Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera said last September that investigators had linked a range of riders to Ferrari, and said that illegal movement of money between Italy, Monaco and Switzerland had been identified.

It stated then that Ferrari took considerable methods to avoid detection, using foreign cell phones, utilising a mobile camper van as a medical office in Italy and Switzerland, and using his eldest son to liaise with the riders rather than doing so directly himself.

La Corriere reported that Armstrong called the son Stefano before last year's Tour, referring to his father as "No. 1." There were suggestions that there could be several tapped phone calls between the two.

Ferrari later admitted that there had been contact, but claimed it was innocent. “My son Stefano is administering a website which offers personalized training consultancy to various cyclists and triathletes; Lance Armstrong is among them.”

Armstrong has criticised the current USADA proceedings, saying that they are motivated by spite. He and his legal team are demanding that USADA release the names of those who will testify as witnesses; USADA has said it will not do so in order to avoid possible intimidation. If the case goes to trial, it is expected to take place before November.

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