USADA hands Ferrari, two others lifetime bans in U.S. Postal case

Three of the six individuals recently charged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in connection with what the agency alleges was a widespread conspiracy dating from 1998 through 2010 have received lifetime bans. USADA handed down the sanctions Tuesday to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Jose “Pepe”…

Three of the six individuals recently charged by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency in connection with what the agency alleges was a widespread conspiracy dating from 1998 through 2010 have received lifetime bans.

USADA handed down the sanctions Tuesday to Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Jose “Pepe” Martí for activities including possession of, trafficking of, and administration and/or attempted administration of “prohibited substances and/or methods including EPO, blood transfusions and related equipment, testosterone, hGH, corticosteroids, and masking agents,” and “assisting, encouraging, aiding, abetting, covering up and other complicity involving one or more anti-doping rule violations and/or attempted anti-doping rule violations.”

The other three individuals accused by the agency — Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel or Dr. Pedro Celaya — have requested arbitration or five-day extensions to respond the USADA’s charges.

“The objective of USADA’s investigation into the sport of cycling is to protect the rights of clean athletes by ridding sport of those in the system, whether coach, doctor, trainer, or manager who abuses their influence by encouraging, coercing or assisting athletes in cheating through the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs. When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth,” said USADA CEO Travis Tygart.

“Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition.”

The USADA press release outlined evidence against each of the three individuals receiving bans as follows:

Dr. del Moral, of Valencia, Spain, was the team physician for the USPS Cycling Team from 1999 through 2003. Until recently Dr. del Moral was affiliated with a sports medicine clinic in Valencia, Spain. USADA’s evidence is that after 2003, Dr. del Moral assisted individual cyclists, including a number of former USPS team members, with their doping. The evidence in Dr. del Moral’s case demonstrated that from 2000 he was intimately involved in the prohibited method of blood transfusions which cyclists use to boost the number of circulating red blood cells to increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood and increase endurance. Dr. del Moral brought riders to his sports medicine clinic in Valencia, Spain where he withdrew blood for prohibited blood transfusions. Dr. del Moral also assisted with saline infusions in order to keep the rider’s blood levels below threshold levels to avoid detection of their drug use. In addition to blood transfusions and saline infusions, Dr. del Moral administered banned performance- enhancing drugs including EPO, testosterone, corticosteroids and hGH to cyclists by providing these drugs to them, recommending the use of these drugs and directly injecting riders with these prohibited drugs.

Dr. Ferrari, of Ferrara, Italy was a consulting doctor to numerous USPS and Discovery Channel Cycling Team riders during the period from at least 1999 through 2006. Since the 1990s to the present, Dr. Ferrari has been a consultant to numerous cyclists and several cycling teams. Dr. Ferrari was brought to several USPS training camps, including in the United States, where USPS team riders worked with him. Dr. Ferrari developed a distinctive mixture of testosterone and olive oil to be administered under the tongue to assist in recovery during races and training. This mixture was known among team members as the “oil.” Dr. Ferrari also advised riders on the use of the banned oxygen enhancer erythropoietin (“EPO”) with detailed instructions regarding clearance times, how the EPO drug test worked and how to avoid detection of the drug. Dr. Ferrari specifically advised riders to inject EPO intravenously in order to avoid the drug showing up in a urine drug test. Dr. Ferrari was present and assisted during instances of prohibited blood doping and EPO use by USPS team members. Dr. Ferrari developed detailed training schedules for riders which included coded symbols designating when EPO should be used and the amount of the drug to inject. 

Mr. Martí, also of Valencia, Spain, was a trainer for the USPS and Discovery Channel Cycling Teams during the period from 1999 through 2007 and thereafter worked for the Astana Cycling Team. Mr. Martí delivered performance-enhancing drugs, including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone (hGH) and cortisone from Valencia, Spain to locations where the riders were living in Europe including Nice, France and Girona, Spain and at training camps and cycling races. Mr. Martí was also involved in assisting with injections of EPO, saline infusions for avoiding detection by drug testing and in transfusing blood to riders.”

It is unclear at this point whether Armstrong, Bruyneel and Celaya have requested arbitration or an extension.

“The other respondents in this case have either asked for and been granted a five-day extension to complete their response, or have requested to move forward with an arbitration hearing where all evidence will be presented, witness testimony will be given under oath, and an independent group of arbitrators will ultimately decide the outcome of the case,” read the statement. “USADA will continue to follow all of the established procedures that were approved by athletes, the U.S. Olympic Committee, and all Olympic sports organizations in compliance with federal law.”

Armstrong on Monday filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Austin, Texas, requesting an injunction and restraining order against USADA. Judge Sam Sparks dismissed the suit hours later. Armstrong, Bruyneel and Celaya have until Saturday to respond to USADA’s charges. If they fail to do so, they will also be subject to sanctions.