Italian newspaper reports Armstrong linked to Ferrari through cash payments
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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Italian newspaper reports Armstrong linked to Ferrari through cash payments

by Shane Stokes at 6:08 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Money laundering and doping accusations made against prominent riders

Lance ArmstrongThere was a new development into the ongoing investigation into the US Postal Service team and multiple Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong yesterday with the news that Italian investigators had apparently uncovered evidence that the rider had made large payments to a Swiss company set up by Italian doctor Michele Ferrari.

Ferrari, banned from working with sportspeople in Italy and alleged to have supplied performance-enhancing drugs to cyclists, worked with Armstrong from the mid-nineties. The rider stopped consulting with Ferrari after being diagnosed with testicular cancer, but renewed his association after he returned to pro cycling. Armstrong says Ferrari was a coach only and never gave him banned substances.

According to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Ferrari set up a company in the Neuchatel region of Switzerland called Health and Performance. It was created on February 26th 1996 and, according to the paper, is thought to be linked to a doping ring allegedly coordinated by Ferrari and reportedly involving riders such as Armstrong, Denis Menchov, Vladimir Gusev, Vladimir Karpets, Michele Scarponi and others.

The newspaper also states that physicians, lawyers, and a bank worker at a BSI branch in Locarno, Switzerland, are also being investigated, and that the inquiry is studying alleged money laundering, fraud and doping. Italian rider agent Raimondo Scimone has been named as a senior figure in the running of the network.

La Corriere della Sera claims that more than 10 million euros ($13.64 million) in funds has been seized by authorities, including 2.4 million euros ($3.27 million) from Menchov.

In April La Gazzetta dello Sport said that an Italian inquiry had developed from the original investigation into the US Postal Service team, which began with the federal agent Jeff Novitzky exploring Floyd Landis’ accusations against the team, Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and others.

The newspaper stated then that investigators were looking at his financial dealings, and reportedly found a clear paper trail to those who may have been involved in illegal activities. They were said to have detected evidence of cash transfers from the US, and reportedly froze some bank accounts.

Today’s story includes claims of an illegal movement of money between Italy, Monaco and Switzerland. It states 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 liase 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 are suggestions that there may be several tapped phone calls between the two.

In April an unnamed Italian law enforcement official said that the American rider met Ferrari repeatedly, including prior to his final Tour de France last July. He told AP that these meetings took place most often in St. Moritz in Switzerland, but also in Monaco. The Italian has an apartment in the latter.

Armstrong had officially ended his involvement with Ferrari in 2004 when the Italian 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. This ruling was eventually overtuned on appeal as the statute of limitations had expired on evidence presented in the original case, but an Italian ban on riders working with him remained in place.

Following the law enforcement official’s April statement of ongoing contact, Armstrong’s spokesman Mark Fabiani confirmed that meetings did take place. He claimed they were on a friendly, personal basis only.

If it is indeed proven that large sums of money were paid, this would challenge that statement. An unnamed Italian law enforcement official told The Associated Press yesterday that the Corriere report is “all true, and you can relay it across the ocean.”

Armstrong has repeatedly denied doping, and has said that former team-mates Landis, Frankie Andreu and Tyler Hamilton are all lying when they state otherwise.


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