Controversial Italian sports doctor Dr Michele Ferrari has revealed he still works with 10 professional riders but refused to name them and insists he has always been against doping.
Ferrari confirmed that Lance Armstrong is no longer one of his clients but said he considers the seven-time Tour de France winner a friend who he occasionally talks to.
Speaking to Italian magazine Cycling Pro in a wide-ranging interview, Dr Ferrari refuted he has a base in St Moritz, Lugano or Monaco, saying: “90% of what is written about me is bullshit.”
“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.
“Are they high-level athletes?”
“No, there medium level and in some cases medium to low level.”
“Who was the last high-level athlete you trained?
“Lance Armstrong. Since he started his retirement in 2005.”
“What did you do?”
“Everything. I went to training camps at altitude, I looked at their tables, gave advice. I worked with Johan Bruyneel, whom I’ve worked with for a long time. I was a consultant.”
“Are you still in contact with Lance?”
“Of course. But not for technical advice. We talk, we discuss things. We’re friends.”
“Is it true you coach Alexandre Vinokuorov?”
“I coached Vino until he was banned. I don’t know if I’ll follow him now he’s back, we’ve got to talk about it.”
The art of coaching
Dr Ferrari admits he talked to riders about doping in the nineties but claimed his expertise is much sought after because he is skilled in the ‘art’ of coaching.
“Of course we talked about doping with the riders. Everybody did. But to tell them not to use them, to offer them alternative solutions. You see, even then, one thing was clear: if you dope, you get caught. When I heard certain things it makes me laugh: ‘There’s a new substance that can’t be found…. Nothing escapes the controls, doping is for idiots. A doctor who advises a rider to take EPO or CERA, telling them they won’t be caught is an idiot.”
“What’s your recipe?”
“Working with what’s available is right. The only way to raise haematocrit values naturally is altitude. Dosing carefully altitude and training is the only way make a difference. It’s not easy. It’s a lot easier to dope a rider. Do you follow my website?
“Well, you will remember what’s written on my website: ‘Coaching is an art’ and that’s something I have. That’s why I’m not interested in talking about colleagues or rivals. Dosing training, altitude and recover is there is to it. But to learn how to do it, you need talent, humility, years of experience and the desire to meet people. Drugs are a shortcut for losers.”
Dr Ferrari revealed he would likely retire in 2011.
“I’ve got another two years: in 2011 I’m going to retire because I’ll be eligible for a pension”
“Then what will you do?
“I’ll ride my bike, hoping that you’ll stop writing shit about me.”