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Ferrari doping inquiry reveals 38 cyclists with alleged ties to doping

Several Astana riders have alleged ties to banned doctor Michele Ferrari, including general manager Alexandre Vinokourov

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MILAN (VN) — Cyclists from Alexandre Vinokourov to Roman Kreuziger worked with banned doping doctor Michele Ferrari, according to case files leaked in the Italian media.

La Gazzetta dello Sport printed part of the case files relating to the Padua doping investigation Wednesday. The case was closed last week, with 550 pages of evidence making their way to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and the UCI.

The newspaper printed 38 names linked to the investigation in Italy’s northeast, and of course, to Ferrari. Italy banned Ferrari from working with licensed athletes in 2002. In 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s (USADA) investigation of Lance Armstrong led to a global lifetime ban for Ferrari.

The article did not specify a time frame, but the investigation began in 2010 and includes incidents dating back to 2008.

The names include Astana’s general manager Vinokourov, 2009 Giro d’Italia winner Denis Menchov, and Kreuziger, who is currently battling the UCI over a biological passport case. Menchov, according to the newspaper, paid Ferrari 50,000 euros a year for his services.

The 38 cyclists named in the case files are: Leonardo Bertagnolli, Simone Boifava, Diego Caccia, Enrico Franzoi, Marco Frapporti, Omar Lombardi, Fabrizio Macchi, Marco Marcato, Andrea Masciarelli, Francesco Masciarelli, Simone Masciarelli, Daniele Pietropolli, Morris Possoni, Filippo Pozzato, Alessandro Proni, Michele Scarponi, Francesco Tizza, Giovanni Visconti, Ricardo Pichetta, Andrea Vaccher, Mauricio Ardila, Volodymyr Bileka, Borut Bozic, Maxim Gourov, Vladimir Gusev, Valentin Iglinskiy, Sergei Ivanov, Vladimir Karpets, Aleksander Kolobnev, Dimitri Kozontchuk, Roman Kreuziger, Denis Menchov, Evgeni Petrov, Yaroslav Popovych, José Rojas, Ivan Rovny, Egor Silin, and Alexandre Vinokourov.

The list includes 20 Italians. Some, like Visconti, former Milano-Sanremo winner Pozzato, and 2011 Giro d’Italia champion Scarponi, already served bans stemming from the Padua investigation.

Vinokourov’s alleged involvement could see his Astana team lose its racing license. “Vino” began the Astana team in 2006, failed a blood doping test in 2007, and returned to win the London Olympic road race before retiring and managing the team.

The report alledges systematic doping on both the Astana and RadioShack teams. La Gazzetta reported a “very close” link between Vinokourov and Ferrari. The investigation includes 17 of the team’s current or former riders. It quoted evidence in which Vinokourov allegedly asked Ferrari’s son Stefano to follow 10-12 of his cyclists for the 2011 season.

Kreuziger is currently fighting a biological passport case. He was cleared by the Czech Olympic Committee but the UCI and WADA have appealed this decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Kreuziger was with Astana during the period that he produced abnormal blood values (2011-2012) and is now with Tinkoff-Saxo. The Czech rider previously admitted to working with Ferrari, but claims he only saw the doctor for training advice, and ended the relationship in 2007. According to La Gazzetta, Kreuziger ended his relationship with Ferrari in 2011.

“Ferrari case: I am investigated and I don’t know about it? I’m not concerned. I am not involved. My conscience is clear. I have NEVER doped,” Kreuziger wrote on Twitter.

In the wake of the report, other several riders denied any wrongdoing. Rojas tweeted, “I exchanged emails with Stefano Ferrari about training… anything more is unsubstantiated,” while Marcato, who recently signed a two-year contract with Wanty-Groupe Gobert, declared his innocence, saying, “I never had any sort of connection with Dr. Ferrari. I never knew this man, I have never met him and I have never talked with him. I wanto defend my image which is strongly affected by this article. I am available to the authorities to answer all the questions and to prove my innocence in this matter.”

The Astana team is already the focus of the UCI’s license committee, which began to renew the team’s status after five recent doping positives. The governing body is due to announce its decision Wednesday.

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