Road

Franzoi faces racing ban related to Ferrari links

The Italian Olympic Committee recommends a three-month suspension for the 32-year-old

MILAN (VN) — The recently closed Padua inquiry in northern Italy, centered on Michele Ferrari, is bearing its first fruit. The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) recommended Thursday a three-month suspension for Italian Enrico Franzoi, who placed eighth in the 2007 Paris-Roubaix while racing with team Lampre-Fondital.

Franzoi, 32 from Mestre, raced on the road with Lampre and Liquigas through 2009 and worked mostly as a helper for riders like Alessandro Ballan and Filippo Pozzato. He also won Italy’s national cyclocross title four times at the elite level, and earned Italy’s under-19 and U23 cyclocross crowns a combined five times. In 2003, he won the world U23 cyclocross championship.

In 2010, Franzoi reportedly spoke on the telephone with Ferrari, who has been banned from sport since 2002 in Italy and blocked worldwide based on the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) case against Lance Armstrong.

The Italian anti-doping tribunal (TNA) will hear Franzoi’s case and decide on a suspension February 27.

Franzoi’s ban could be the first of many stemming from the Padua inquiry. The inquiry, closed in early December 2014, focused on Doctor Ferrari and his clients between 2010 and 2011. According to leaks in Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, it involved 38 cyclists.

The 38 riders 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.

Pozzato (Lampre-Merida), Scarponi (Astana), and Visconti (Movistar) already received short bans for working with Ferrari. They escaped serious sentencing because prosecutors only had proof that they met, spoke, or wrote Ferrari, and lacked evidence that they doped.

Due to an administrative error, Ferrari may not have been listed as a banned doctor/trainer with the Italian federation. Even if it should have been clear visiting Ferrari was prohibited thanks the attention he received with team Gewiss and Armstrong, the administrative technicality may have saved some.

CONI communicated Franzoi’s recommended sentence Thursday without indicating who is next. The prosecutors at its Rome headquarters have 550 pages of evidence from Padua from which they can draw conclusions.

The UCI also has the Padua dossier. The governing body’s license commission renewed Astana’s WorldTour license December 10, but that was after reports that Ferrari allegedly visited the team’s training camp in November 2013. La Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the Padua prosecutor has a photograph of Ferrari’s visit.

That photograph and the 17 Astana cyclists — counting past cyclists, including current general manger Vinokourov — could stop the team with 2014 Tour de France winner Vincenzo Nibali from racing.

“It could be that their license referred back to the commission,” UCI President Brian Cookson told VeloNews in December.

“The team could be reduced to the Pro Continental level or it could lose its license all together. It depends on the information and the seriousness of it.”