Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) president Renato Di Rocco has defended Filippo Pozzato’s presence at a national team training camp in Trentino this week but confirmed that he will not ride at the London 2012 Olympics if he is charged with having been a client of Dr. Michele Ferrari.
“It would have been right to send him away if he had been charged but for now there hasn’t been anything,” Di Rocco told Gazzetta dello Sport. “But it’s clear that if the procura were to refer the case, he would have to bid farewell to the blue jersey because there wouldn’t be enough time afterwards to close the proceedings before the Olympics.”
Pozzato appeared before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in Rome on Tuesday to discuss allegations published in La Repubblica that he was a client of the infamous Ferrari. The newspaper quoted a 2009 phone conversation that had been intercepted by investigators from the Padova-based anti-doping investigation centred on Ferrari’s activities. Evidence from Padova is understood to have been used by the United States Anti-Doping Agency to help build their case against Ferrari, Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel.
Ferrari was banned by the FCI on the back of rider testimony relating to his activities and in February 2002, the body announced that it would hand down suspensions of up to six months to riders who were found to have consulted with him. According to Gazzetta dello Sport, Pozzato told CONI that he had received training programmes from Ferrari between 2005 and 2009.
After the CONI hearing, the Farnese Vini-Selle Italia rider headed north to attend the Italian team camp in Trentino, where the national championships take place on Saturday.
“As far as we know, Pozzato has never been investigated and has no previous,” Di Rocco said. “Furthermore, no doubts have ever emerged about his values, medical profile and biological passport. He’s tranquillo, serene and transparent.”
In the wake of Pozzato’s hearing on Tuesday, CONI has called Giovanni Visconti (Movistar), Leonardo Bertagnolli and Michele Scarponi (both Lampre-ISD) to appear in Rome on Wednesday.
Bertagnolli and Scarponi were searched by Italian police while training at Mount Etna in April 2011, while Visconti’s home was searched the following week. At the time, the Italian media reported that the searches were carried out as part of the Padova-based investigation into Ferrari’s activities.
“I’m surprised that certain things have come out now. If they wanted, this could have been checked before the Giro,” Di Rocco said. “There isn’t any more news from the magistrates but from the press. [Scarponi] and Visconti had already been spoken about.”