Gazzetta dello Sport reports that investigators in Italy have uncovered a payment of $465,000 made by Lance Armstrong to Dr. Michele Ferrari in 2006. The news comes after the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) formally charged Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel, Michele Ferrari and three other trainers with links to the US Postal Team with doping on Wednesday.
The alleged payment was discovered as part of a doping investigation opened by Padova-based magistrate Benedetto Roberti in 2010, which is centred on the activities of Ferrari. The controversial doctor is serving a life ban from the Italian Cycling Federation and any rider shown to have worked with Ferrari faces suspension.
Roberti’s team of investigators in Padova are understood to have worked closely with an inquiry in the United States led by Jeff Novitzky, which examined allegations of systematic doping and fraud at the US Postal team.
Federal prosecutors dropped that case in February of this year, however, and Gazzetta reports that the evidence from Padova related to Armstrong’s alleged $465,000 payment to Ferrari “was not ready” at that time.
Nonetheless, USADA CEO Travis Tygart had insisted that his body would look to obtain all evidence developed during the federal investigation in order to continue its own inquiry into doping in cycling.
Armstrong’s use of Ferrari as his trainer was a source of considerable controversy and intrigue during his run of seven consecutive Tour de France victories, and the American claimed in 2004 that he had ended their working relationship.
In September of last year, however, the Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that Armstrong had continued his contact with Ferrari when he came out of retirement and returned to the professional peloton in 2009. The newspaper also alleged that Armstrong had made a series of payments to a company based in Neufchatel, Switzerland, which was believed to be linked to Ferrari.