Armstrong spokesman admits rider met Ferrari prior to 2010 Tour de France (updated)
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Friday, April 15, 2011

Armstrong spokesman admits rider met Ferrari prior to 2010 Tour de France (updated)

by Shane Stokes at 2:17 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de France, Doping
 
States meetings were of a personal nature only

Lance ArmstrongDespite formally severing ties with Michelle Ferrari in 2004, an Italian law enforcement official said today that the American rider met the controversial Italian doctor repeatedly since then, including prior to his final Tour de France last July.

The unnamed official spoke to AP on the subject, saying that the Texan met Ferrari ‘frequently,’ most often in St. Moritz in Switzerland, but also in Monaco.

It quotes Ferrari as being somewhat vague about their contact. “When, last year? Look, right now I don't remember,” he said, “but I haven't had a professional relationship with Mr. Armstrong for a long time.”

Contacted by VeloNation, his spokesman Mark Fabiani confirmed in a statement that meetings did take place.

“There they go again: Government sources are leaking inaccurate rumours to create the false impression that this taxpayer-money-wasting fishing expedition actually has a purpose,” he said in the communication. “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. Lance last saw Dr. Ferrari about a year ago.”

Armstrong worked with Ferrari since the mid-90s, rejecting media reports and statements from riders such as Filippo Simeoni that the Italian was a doping doctor. His US Postal Service team reportedly had an exclusive contract with Ferrari during Armstrong’s Tour-winning reign, although that was officially ended when Ferrari was charged with various offences in Italy.

Seven years ago, he was convicted of sporting fraud and abusing his medical license to write prescriptions. His medical licence was suspended for a year and he was fined €900, but he was able to overturn this ruling on appeal as the statute of limitations had expired on evidence presented in the original case.

Many teams forbid their riders from working with him. He is banned for life by the Italian Cycling Federation.

Ferrari linked to wider investigation:


AP reported earlier today that raids carried out on the Katusha team headquarters and a hotel used by Lampre ISD riders for altitude training had links to riders believed to be working with Ferrari.

The biological passport details of five Russian riders were requested and handed over. According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, those concerned are past world championship runner-up and Olympic bronze medallist Alexander Kolobnev, Vladimir Karpets, Mikhail Ignatiev, Vladimir Gusev and the current Astana rider, Evgeni Petrov. Two other riders were scrutinised yesterday, namely Lampre-ISD’s Michele Scarponi and Leonardo Bertagnolli.

La Gazzetta reports that the current investigation is linked to meetings held between anti-doping and law enforcement officials last November in France. FDA investigator Jeff Novitzky, US federal prosecutor Doug Miller and US Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart were part of the American group present, as were counterparts from France, Italy and Belgium.

The Italian link is connected to the Padova anti-doping investigations, being conducted by prosecutor Benedetto Roberti. La Gazzetta reports that he met with Novitzky in late July at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon, and that representatives of the Spanish Guardia Civil were also present. It notes that Ferrari lives in Ferrara, St. Moritz and Monaco; it also states that any riders [presumably Italian ones] are liable to a ban of between three to six months if they work with him.

In a December 2009 interview with the Italian Cycling Pro magazine, Ferrari denied working with any high level riders. He said that he was advising ten professional riders, but described them as ‘medium level and in some cases medium to low level.’ He refused to disclose their names.

“I protect my rider's privacy. I've no reason to say who they are, if they don't want," Ferrari says in the question and answer interview.

He gave an apparent contradiction, stating that the last high level athlete he worked with was ‘Lance Armstrong. Since he started his retirement in 2005.’ However when asked about Alexandre Vinokourov, who openly admitted prior to the 2007 Tour that he worked with Ferrari, he said that they did have a business relationship. “I coached Vino until he was banned.”

The Astana rider failed a test for a homologous blood transfusion in July 2007, two years after Ferrari said he last worked with a top-level rider.

Italian media suggestions are that the Ferrari investigation could have very far-reaching consequences, extending far beyond Italian borders.

Former US Postal Service rider Floyd Landis, who incriminated Armstrong and others from the team last year, stated that Michele Ferrari was involved in doping those on the squad. Armstrong has rejected this, while the Italian claims that he has never advocated the use of banned products.

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