Italian doctor studying documents that accuse him of doping
Dr Michele Ferrari has told Cyclingnews that he is studying the documents from the USADA doping investigation but refused to be drawn on if or how he will respond to the multiple accusations that he helped Lance Armstrong and other riders dope with EPO, Growth Hormones and blood transfusion techniques.
Speaking from his home on the outskirts of Ferrara, where riders –including Armstrong - often secretly visited him, the 59-year-old Italian seemed unperturbed by the weight of doping accusations that have emerged thanks to the USADA investigation.
"I'm going to take time to study 1000 pages of documents from USADA. It's taken them two and half years to gather the documents, so it's going to take me some time to go through them…" he told Cyclingnews.
Dr Ferrari is mentioned 489 times in just the 202-page Reasoned Decision document published by USADA. His name and allegations of how he helped riders dope also appear multiple times in other documents and affidavits.
USADA revealed the intimate role played by Dr. Ferrari in masterminding Armstrong's Tour de France success, a relationship that ran from before the Texan’s diagnosis with cancer in 1996 through to his comeback in 2009. USADA was able to trace more than a million dollars in payments to the Italian doctor, with payments ranging from 1996 to 2006.
The report also includes numerous eyewitness accounts from Armstrong's teammates, detailed in affidavits.
Tyler Hamilton confirmed under oath that, "Dr. Ferrari injected [him] with EPO on a number of occasions." Hamilton's first injection of EPO from Dr. Ferrari came in Dr. Ferrari's camper while training at Sestriéres in 1999.
An affidavit in Italian by Italy's Leonardo Bertagnolli includes details of conversations secretly recorded by Italian police, where Dr Ferrari allegedly explains how to cheat anti-doping tests for EPO, how to carry out blood transfusions and where he even discusses other rider's doping cases. He even indicated the make of industrial fridge Bertagnolli should buy to safely store his blood.
When Cyclingnews suggested the scale of the evidence against him was overwhelming, Dr Ferrari replied: "As I said, I'm going to look at the documents and I'll speak when I feel it's the right moment.”
He then abruptly interrupted the conversation.
USADA has already banned Dr Ferrari for life based on the evidence collected. However he has denied the accusations on his personal coaching website 53x12.com.
“I have NEVER witnessed any kind of doping practices taking place within the USPS team: I never went to races and at the team training camps I have attended, I was simply performing functional testing and making training programs;” he writes in a posting dated July 12.
“With regards to the alleged testimonies of riders, some were infamous protagonists of unfortunate events and documented lies; the others probably are those "semi-Champions" who chose to dope, chasing dreams of glory and money or just for envy, organizing it all themselves for their own sake.”
Despite being in the spotlight, Dr Ferrari has continued to give coaching advice via 53x12.com, responding to questions as recently as October 14.