Did Astana riders meet with banned ‘doping doctor’ Michele Ferrari in 2013?

Evidence emerges that members of the Astana team met with banned medic Dr Michele Ferrari in 2013

Team Astana members met with banned doping doctor Michele Ferrari in November 2013, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Italian newspaper reported on Monday morning that it has photographs of Ferrari talking with the team at its training camp ahead of the 2014 season, when it helped Vincenzo Nibali win the Tour de France.

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The 61-year-old from Ferrara trained under Professor Francesco Conconi, who helped introduce EPO to cycling, and famously worked with Lance Armstrong. He faced criminal charges accusing him of distributing doping products, but was cleared in 2006.

However, Italy’s Olympic Committee (CONI) banned him from working with UCI-licensed cyclists since February 13, 2002. On July 10, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) banned him for life as part of its Armstrong case. It said he helped with EPO, blood transfusions and other prohibited drugs and methods from 1999 to 2007.

Ferrari lives in Ferrara and in Lugano, Switzerland – both 120 miles or more from Montecatini Terme. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that he met with the team during its pre-season camp in November 2013 and that it has photographs of him talking to the Kazakh team in front of the Grand Hotel Croce di Malta

In Italy, visiting or talking with Ferrari may result in a six-month ban. Several cyclists have been caught or admitted to working with Ferrari: Roman Kreuziger (Tinkoff-Saxo), Filippo Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Franco Pellizotti (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) and Michele Scarponi (Astana).

Scarponi, 2011 Giro d’Italia winner, left team Lampre-Merida to join Astana for the 2014 season and was at the 2013 training camp. Astana general manager Alexandre Vinokourov was also at the camp. He began the team in 2006, served a ban for blood doping and returned to win the 2012 London Olympics road race.

Vinokourov’s name appears in the Padua investigation centred on Ferrari. The case files, which already brought to the surface Liège-Bastogne-Liège bribery evidence, were handed over to Italy’s Olympic Committee last week.

The timing of the Padua case and news of the Ferrari visit could not come at a worse time for the team in turquoise. It is waiting for cycling’s governing body, the UCI, to rule on the renewal of its WorldTour licence. The UCI referred the matter to its licence commission after five Astana cyclists tested positive for doping in a two-month period. Brothers Maxim and Valentin Iglinskiy both failed doping tests for EPO, and three cyclists from Astana’s third division feeder team – Ilya Davidenok, Victor Okishev, Artur Fedosseyev – were caught for steroids.

Maxim Iglinskiy, winner of the 2012 Liège-Bastogne-Liège, helped Nibali win the Tour de France in July.