Italian newspaper suggests the case is more about illegal payments than doping
Thursday's edition of the Gazzetta dello Sport has revealed more information concerning the ongoing investigation into infamous sports doctor Michele Ferrari and his possible links to Lance Armstrong and allegations of doping during the years of the US Postal Service cycling team.
The new details are revealed in a special column called 'Dietro la notizia' –'Inside the news' of the cycling section of the paper. Chief cycling reporter Luca Gialanella suggests the investigation headed by the USA Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and special agent Jeff Novitzky has evolved from a doping investigation into a financial investigation. Police have now looking into the illegal transfer of millions of Euro and dollars around the world to Dr Ferrari's Swiss bank account.
Possible charges could include money laundering, tax avoidance, conspiracy and fraud.
Ferrari lives in the Italian town of Ferrara, on the plains of the river Po, between Bologna and Venice, but has been banned from working with UCI licence holders in Italy. He is known to work out of St Moritz, especially during the summer, when riders head to the Swiss resort for altitude training.
The Italian part of the investigation is lead by Padova magistrate Benedetto Roberti. The US-based investigators apparently knew little of the relationship between Dr Ferrari and Armstrong when they first met with European investigators last July at the Interpol headquarters in Lyon France. However things changed quickly as the investigation developed.
Gazzetta suggests the recent police search of Michele Scarponi on Mount Etna and the seizing of medical records and contracts of five riders at the Katusha offices near Lake Garda was only a small step in the investigation. The most important operations may have already been carried out.
The investigators have apparently studied where payments to Dr Ferrari originated from and have frozen some bank accounts and seized the money. There are also apparently traces of cash transfers from the USA to Ferrari in Switzerland.
Gazzetta claims that the whole network, headed by Dr Ferrari, may have generated around 15 million Euro. Close to 100 people are involved in the investigation, including rider agents who offered their clients packages of services that included Swiss lawyers and Swiss bank accounts.
Cyclingnews tried to contact Dr Ferrari but he did not reply to our calls. His lawyer was also unavailable.