Lampre-ISD suspended Michele Scarponi pending the outcome of an investigation into his ties with doping doctor, Michele Ferrari. The Italian cyclist was heard today by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and admitted he worked with Ferrari.
Lampre’s press officer, Andrea Appiani told Cycling Weekly, “We’ve already suspended him based an article in our internal rules, which states that riders under investigation are to be stopped pending a final ruling.”
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The Italian team extended Scarponi’s contract this year through 2013. However, due to the suspension, “everything’s frozen” and it has stopped paying the cyclist.
Scarponi, 33, placed second in last year’s Giro d’Italia and received the title this year after Alberto Contador was stripped of the win due to a doping suspension. He also won the Tour of Catalonia and Giro del Trentino last year.
Today in Rome, he met with CONI chief anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri due to his ties with Ferrari. Since 2002, Ferrari has been banned from working with cyclists in Italy and if he does so, the rider risks suspension. CONI issued Filippo Pozzato a three-month ban for visiting Ferrari this year.
“I admitted to visiting Ferrari for two tests in September 2010, when I was at the end of my contract with Androni Giocattoli,” Scarponi said according Italian website, Tuttobici. “A little while afterwards, I signed with Lampre and have since been working with the Mapei [Training] Centre. I was convinced that Ferrari was not banned, and so I acted in good faith.”
In July, the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) issued Ferrari a global, life-time ban as part of its investigation into Lance Armstrong. The same Italian public prosecutor, Benedetto Roberti that helped the agency in its case also revealed Scarponi’s Ferrari connection, which paints a much darker picture than the one Scarponi described today.
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper detailed the connection last month. It obtained police documents that showed Ferrari met and tested Scarponi on the Monzuno climb on September 27, 2010. The documents also contained a transcription of a conversation that was overheard thanks to a bug placed in Ferrari’s camper van.
Scarponi, who placed fourth in the Giro d’Italia that year, allegedly said, “I could’ve won the Giro. Ferrari responded, “If you had a bag [of blood] you would’ve had your chance.”
Scarponi now risks a life-time ban since he already served an 18-month ban for his involvement in Operación Puerto. He said today that he expects Torri to defer the case to CONI’s disciplinary committee.