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By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
Filippo Simeoni broke professional cycling’s so-called code of silence Tuesday when he testified in an Italian courtroom that he had taken banned products, including EPO, under the direction of Dr Michele Ferrari.
Ferrari, currently on trial in Bologna, stands accused of allegedly administering banned substances to athletes under his supervision.
The 30-year-old Simeoni, now riding for Acqua e Sapone, told the court in Bologna on Tuesday that Ferrari had offered detailed instructions on the use of substances and how to avoid triggering positive test results. Simeoni was a client of Ferrari’s between November 1996 and 1997 but admitted to the court that he had taken doping products before that period.
“I went to Ferrara (where Ferrari was based) and the doctor built me a work program with increasing levels,” said Simeoni.
Asked what exactly was prescribed, Simeoni said that there were several different drugs involved in his program.
“With Doctor Ferrari, who looked after me between November ‘96 and November ‘97 – we spoke about EPO first,” Simeoni told the court. “Then further on from March to April we are talking about taking Andriol (testosterone) that I had to take after intensive training based on strength to give power to my muscles. With Andriol the lost hormones were replaced by synthetics.”
Treatment charts prepared by Ferrari for Simeoni with asterisks were produced – the prosecution is trying to prove the asterisks are a code for banned substances. “The asterisks indicated the taking of Andriol after training sessions of five to six hours on a bike,” said Simeoni. “Dr Ferrari told me to be careful not to take testosterone too near races because I might then test positive. I have never been banned for failing a dope test only for three months for saying what I said during the inquiries and the interviews which have been published.
“To avoid doping problems Dr Ferrari told me to use Emagel on the morning of tests and in the evening another product to lower the haematocrit level. I went to get the EPO and Andriol in Swiss pharmacies.”
Another cyclist to testify against Ferrari was retired professional racer Fabrizio Convalle who said the doctor had given him 30 vials of an unknown substance to store in his refrigerator. “He did not explain to me what was in them,” said Convalle.
Ferrari, long suspected of doping athletes, was charged last fall with violating a number of Italian statutes, including conspiracy to commit sporting fraud. Ferrari’s name appeared prominently during this year’s Tour de France after American Lance Armstrong admitted that he had been working with the Italian physician, but denied ever even discussing the possible use of performance-enhancing drugs.
After giving evidence Simeoni spoke to journalists. “I have not suffered from pressures after deciding to speak,” said Simeoni. “But when you decide to take a certain path, to say what a lot of people know but don’t want to say because of fear or another reason at the beginning you are going to create a feeling of antipathy towards yourself.”
Ferrari is contesting the charges. The court case will resume on February 19 when cyclist Gianluca Bortolami, who originally had been slated to appear Tuesday, is expected to take the stand.
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