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U.S. and Italian authorities examine Armstrong-Ferrari ties

The Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport reported Thursday that U.S. investigators are working with their Italian counterparts to review millions of dollars’ worth of financial transactions involving physician Michele Ferrari and several high-profile cyclists.

La Gazzetta’s Luca Gialanella reported that U.S. Food and Drug Administration criminal division investigator Jeff Novitzky has spent time working with prosecutors in Italy examining records of transactions, some of which date back to years when Ferrari served as a consultant to the former U.S. Postal Service cycling team and its star rider Lance Armstrong.

Novitzky, who recently testified in the perjury trial of baseball’s Barry Bonds, is also part of a team investigating allegations of doping and misuse of public funds by Armstrong and others at U.S. Postal. Gialanella’s report suggests that the U.S. investigation has shifted its emphasis from one largely focused on doping allegations to a much broader case involving fraud, money laundering and tax evasion.

Sources close to the U.S. investigation recently told VeloNews that investigators have begun to focus on a years’ worth of secretive financial transactions involving “tens of millions and maybe more.”

Thursday’s report in Gazzetta notes that U.S. and Italian investigators are currently examining a series of bank transfers and cash transactions totaling an estimated 15 million Euros.

While Novitzky’s investigation focuses largely on Ferrari’s relationship with Armstrong, the Italian investigation is wider and recently resulted in the questioning of several current Italian cyclists as well as a search of the Katusha team’s Italian headquarters.

The American investigation includes forensic accountants who are working with Italian authorities and Swiss bank auditors to review relevant documents in the case.

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