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Monday 03, Dec 2012

  Armstrong Doctor Linked To More Top Cyclists

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Armstrong Doctor Linked To More Top Cyclists

At least 15 more cyclists have reportedly been linked to the banned Italian sport doctor of Lance Armstrong in an intricate scheme of money laundering, tax evasion, and widespread doping. The Gazzetta dello Sport reported former Giro d’Italia winners Michele Scarponi and Denis Menchov, and this year’s Olympic champion Alexandre Vinokourov are under investigation for doping under the supervision of Dr. Michele Ferrari.

The Gazzetta cited documents from an inquiry led by Padua prosecutor Benedetto Roberti that detailed how Ferrari allegedly masterminded a $40 million operation where teams and riders avoided paying taxes by recycling money via Gibraltar, Monte Carlo, Switzerland, and South America. All charges were however denied by the cyclists and Ferrari.

For several years, Roberti has been leading a sweeping investigation of Ferrari and parts of which were used in the USADA report that detailed how Lance Armstrong and others used performance enhancing drugs to stay at the top. After the report was published, the Texan rider was banned for life and stripped of all his results from August 1, 1998. The 41-year-old Armstrong has acknowledged that Ferrari was his trainer until 2004 and the name of Ferrari was mentioned throughout the USADA report and was banned for life.

Doping is a crime in Italy and the Italian doctor was already cleared on appeal in 2006 of criminal charges of distributing banned products for athletes and remains barred for life by the Italian Cycling Federation under a 2002 ruling. The Italian doctor is reportedly under investigation again in Italy for criminal association, trafficking and administering doping substances, tax evasion, and money laundering.

The Gazzetta said microphones were hidden by investigators in the camper van that the Italian doctor used to have meetings with cyclists in remote areas of Italy and in Switzerland and a phone-tap conversation was printed by the newspaper between Italian professional road bicycle racer Michele Scarponi and and Ferrari inside the van in September 2010 during which Scarponi said he could win the following year’s Giro and the doctor replied that if he used a blood transfusion he had a chance. The cyclist finished second in the 2011 Giro but then was promoted to champion when Alberto Contador was stripped of the title for doping at the 2010 Tour de France and Vincenzo Nibali finished behind Scarponi. Scarponi was banned in 2007 for a period of 18 months for involvement in the Spanish doping scandal Operation Puerto.

Police also taped a September 2010 phone call between Denis Menchov (who won the Spanish Vuelta in 2005 and 2007 and raced with the Rabobank team from 2005-2010 and won the Giro in 2009) and agent Raimondo Scimone during which Menchov tells the agent that he wants “all the cyclists working with him followed by Ferrari,” according to the Gazzetta. In a statement to the paper, Scimone said he was never involved in doping or wrongdoing.

 This year’s Olympic champion Alexandre Vinokourov is also reportedly under investigation by Roberti and had served a two-year ban after testing positive for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France. Others reportedly under investigation are Yaroslav Popovych and Volodymyr Bileka; Russian riders Alexandr Kolobnev, Vladimir Karpets, Vladimir Gusev, Mikhail Ignatiev; Czech rider Roman Kreuziger; and Italians Filippo Pozzato, Lorenzo Bertagnolli, Giovanni Visconti and Franco Pellizzotti.

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Friday 09, Nov 2012

  Italian Cyclist Suspended After Links To Ferrari Exposed

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Italian Cyclist Suspended After Links To Ferrari Exposed

Italian cyclist Michele Scarponi has been temporarily suspended by his Lampre-ISD team after he admitted to working with disgraced doctor Michele Ferrari.

The cyclist, who won the 2011 edition of the Giro d’Italia after Alberto Contador was stripped of his title following a positive test for the banned drug Clenbuterol, admitted last month that he had worked with the doctor following reports in Gazzetta dello Sport linking the duo.

Ferrari played a key role in the systematic doping program employed by Lance Armstrong’s US Postal and Discovery Channel teams between 1999 and 2005 and was handed a lifetime ban from working in professional sports in July 2012. Scarponi has been suspended on a temporary basis by Lampre-ISD even though the cyclist has not admitted to any connection with doping and to working with Ferrari before he joined the team. Meanwhile, the Italian Cycling Federation is also believed to have launched an investigation which may put Scarponi “out of action for some time”.

A spokesman for Lampre-ISD said the team was following its internal medical policy and Michele Scarponi has been suspended by the team doctor Carlo Guardascione. The suspension of the Italian cyclist began on October 25 when he released his statement and the Italian Cycling Federation has been notified of the suspension, the spokesman added.

Scarponi was previously banned for 18 months for his involvement in Operation Puerto in 2007. Operación Puerto was the code name of a Spanish Police operation against the doping network of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes; the operation resulted in a scandal that involved several of the world’s most famous cyclists at the time. Scarponi admitted he was Zapatero while Jörg Jaksche admitted he was Bella in Fuentes’ files while Ivan Basso who was cleared by Italian authorities due to lack of evidence admitted involvement in the scandal to the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI).

The Italian professional road bicycle racer was able to secure a contract with Acqua & Sapone despite been implicated in the Operación Puerto doping case in 2006. The next year he was implicated again in the Operación Puerto case and confessed his role in the case on May 8, 2007. Thereafter, he was provisionally suspended on May 15, 2007. Diquigiovanni-Androni announced on June 13, 2008 that they had signed Scarponi for the coming two seasons with the cyclist completing the ban and won the Tirreno-Adriatico and also won 2 stages in the Giro d’Italia in 2009.

The Italian cyclist was able to award himself a second place finish in the Tirreno-Adriatic and was able to finish fourth overall in the Giro d’Italia where Scarponi was able to took a prestigious victory in the epic stage 19 and went on to a win in the Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda. After moving in 2011 to Lampre-ISD, Scarponi won the Giro del Trentino and the Volta a Catalunya and finished  second overall behind Alberto Contador in the Giro d’Italia. After Contrador was stripped of the title for using Clenbuterol which he blamed it on contaminated meat, Scarponi was assigned the title. He finished 4th overall while trying to defend his Giro title in 2012 with Canadian Ryder Hesjedal taking the overall win.

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