MILAN, Dec 09, 2014 (AFP) – A doctor banned for life for doping offences
involving top athletes including Lance Armstrong has hit back at reports of a
secret meeting with members of the embattled Astana cycling team.
A report in Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday claimed Dr Michele Ferrari,
reputed for his expertise in helping athletes avoid detection while using
banned doping methods, met with members from Tour de France champion Vincenzo
Nibali’s team at a training camp in Italy last year.
Ferrari, who advised Armstrong throughout the disgraced American’s career,
has been banned for life by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and the
United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) from working in sport or with
Likewise, athletes are banned from consulting Ferrari under threat of
In a statement on his website Ferrari admitted he worked with Astana “up to
a few years ago”, but flatly denied visiting the team at Montecatini Terme in
“I feel obliged, albeit very reluctantly, to once again deny the latest
MEDIA BULLSH*T with regards to my presence at the Astana Team Training Camp in
Montecatini in November last year,” Ferrari said on www.53×12.com.
“I’ve been in that town, if I remember correctly, in 1994 to taste the
“The bombshell of ‘the dark shadow of Ferrari’ is absolutely FALSE and
whoever has published it will respond about it in the appropriate courts: I
hope that the Kazakh team will ask adequate compensation for the damages.”
Astana’s World Tour future is currently hanging in the balance after
brothers Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy, and three riders from the Astana
Continental team, tested positive for banned substances in the past year.
Ferrari’s reported link with the team run by reigning Olympic champion
Alexandre Vinokourov, who served a two-year blood doping ban from 2007, would
do little to help their bid to gain a World Tour licence from the
International Cycling Union (UCI), which is required to guarantee entry to all
the major cycling events.
Astana’s Continental team was suspended over a week ago and the UCI is
expected to decide Wednesday whether to grant the Kazakh team a World Tour
If the UCI rules against Astana, the team could effectively fold.
Ferrari added: “Up to a few years ago I coached some of the Astana
athletes, including Vinokurov: it has never been a secret, we never hid
anything, we attended training venues where there were many other athletes,
all in broad daylight.”
Monday’s report, however, claimed Ferrari is firmly back in the sights of
prosecutors from Padua, who have been investigating the notorious doctor and
his business activities since 2010.
It said prosecutors have handed “500 pages of evidence, including the names
of 90 cyclists” to anti-doping officials at the Italian Olympic Committee
Among that evidence is a “photograph of Ferrari chatting to certain members
of the team” in November 2013, although Gazzetta said the evidence contains
“nothing to link…Vincenzo Nibali with Ferrari”.