Doctor Michele Ferrari has hit back following leaks from an inquiry in Padua, northern Italy, that alleges that he helped 38 cyclists dope in 2010 and 2011.
“Up until now, I was convinced that the most appropriate location to answer charges was a courtroom, and for this I have never commented on the various media reports,” wrote Ferrari on his website 53×12.com.
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“The latest press campaign … forced me to change my behaviour, and express some simple considerations.”
The 61-year-old Italian from Ferrara famously worked with Lance Armstrong and helped him with EPO, testosterone and blood transfusions. He received a lifetime ban as part of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) investigation in 2012, but Italy had already barred him from working with athletes as early as 2002.
An investigation led by Padua’s public prosecutor closed last week. Evidence from the case was leaked in Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Wednesday and revealed that 38 cyclists reportedly worked with the banned doctor.
The names: Leonardo Bertagnolli, Simone Boifava, Diego Caccia, Enrico Franzoi, Marco Frapporti, Omar Lombardi, Fabrizio Macchi, Marco Marcato, Andrea Masciarelli, Francesco Masciarelli, Simone Masciarelli, Daniele Pietropolli, Morris Possoni, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Proni, Michele Scarponi, Francesco Tizza, Giovanni Visconti, Ricardo Pichetta, Andrea Vaccher, Mauricio Ardila, Volodymyr Bileka, Borut Bozic, Maxim Gourov, Vladimir Gusev, Valentin Iglinskiy, Sergei Ivanov, Vladimir Karpets, Alexandr Kolobnev, Dimitri Kozontchuk, Roman Kreuziger, Denis Menchov, Evgeni Petrov, Yaroslav Popovych, José Rojas, Ivan Rovny, Egor Silin and Alexandre Vinokourov.
Ferrari defended himself against a few of the alleged links.
Scarponi: In printed police taps, Ferrari reportedly told the Italian that he could have won the 2010 Giro d’Italia had he had used blood doping. “A joke about his past involvement in Operación Puerto, nothing more than that,” Ferrari wrote. “Doping after all has always been a ‘topic of discussion’ at dining tables, in the athlete’s rooms, in bar chats, without any of this having any serious meaning.”
Kreuziger: The Czech cyclist admitted to working with Ferrari in 2013, but is now sidelined due to a biological passport case. “Roman, if you have yet to figured it all out, your problems with the biological passport are simply the price to pay for having worked with me in 2007, and for later declaring that ‘Ferrari had prescribed me only training programmes,’ which is the absolute truth.”
Ferrari said of the many other cyclists listed, “I simply do not know them: Marco Marcato, Dimitri Kozontchuk, Ivan Rovny, Egor Silin…”
The newspaper reported that Ferrari worked with 17 team Astana cyclists over the years, including 2012 London Olympic road race champion and current manager, Vinokourov. On Monday, La Repubblica newspaper said that Ferrari was photographed at Astana’s November 2013 training camp in Montecatini Terme and that police noted “frequent contact” between Ferrari and team coach Paolo Slongo.
“Yes, of course,” Ferrari said of the “frequent contact with Slongo. “Every morning, in front of the buffet breakfast at the hotel Parador del Teide, with the topic: “Is it better to have eggs with bacon or muesli with yogurt?”
“The photos of Montecatini? We are all waiting so anxiously for them…”
Ferrari joked about Slongo, but confirmed rumours that he visits Tenerife, which is the high-altitude training base for many teams including Astana, Tinkoff-Saxo and Sky.