Four-year Ferrari investigation handed over to CONI

Could Astana's link cost them a WorldTour licence?

The four-year-long Padua investigation into an alleged doping scandal centered around Italian doctor Michele Ferrari, and implicates athletes in cycling, triathlon and biathlon, has been handed over to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), according to a report in La Repubblica. The file is reported to include links to individuals within the Astana team.

Public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti headed the investigation, which points to Italian and Swiss police uncovering a system of money laundering and tax fraud linked to a doping ring involving 20 professional riders, and that Dr. Ferrari helped organize the system. It was reported that some 70 people have been investigated.

The 550-page report, has been given to CONI’s anti-doping tribunal for review, however, the investigation is still ongoing. Some of the riders that were implicated include Michele Scarponi, Denis Menchov, Alexandre Kolobnev, Vladimir Gusev, Vladimir Karpets, Mikhail Ignatiev, Evgeni Petrov and Alberto Ongarato.

Astana’s Enrico Gasparotto is also linked to the investigation through testimony given from Leonardo Bertagnoli and Volodymyr Bileka, who said that he visited Dr. Ferrari and that they underwent tests at the same time as Gasparotto, and trained with him at altitude at St. Moritz and Teide. Gasparotto has denied involvement with Dr. Ferrari.

Astana and its manager Alexander Vinokourov, are already under scrutiny because five riders among the organization have tested positive for banned substances this year, Maxim and Valentin Iglinsky from the WorldTour team, and llya Davidenok, Viktor Okishev and Artur Fedosseyev from the Continental team. Vinokourov himself served a suspension for blood doping during the 2007 Tour de France, and is alleged to have been a client of Dr. Ferrari.

The UCI announced the teams that were granted WorldTour licences in 2015, however, the sport governing body deferred its final decision on Astana because of ethical reasons.

The team is currently awaiting the final decision on their licence on December 10, however, implications of a member of their organization being involved in the Padua investigation will no doubt be another mark against the Kazakhstan team.

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