Dr. Michele Ferrari and his son Stefano have been summoned for questioning by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor on Friday, September 4. The infamous sports doctor is suspected of providing advice and assistance about EPO and other banned substances to Italian biathlete Daniel Taschler and his father Gottlieb, a vice president of the international Biathlon federation in 2010. Both the Ferraris and the Taschlers deny any wrongdoing.
Ferrari worked closely with Lance Armstrong for much of his career when he doped to win the Tour de France seven times. He was banned by the United States Anti-Doping Agency in 2012 after being accused of doping by a number of Armstrong's former teammates but has always defiantly denied doping athletes since he began working in cycling in the late eighties. Stefano Ferrari is alleged to manage the financial aspects of his father's doping business.
Ferrari was banned for life by the Italian Cycling Federation in 2002 but has recently appealed to a regional court to have the ban lifted because he claims the CONI failed to formally notify Ferrari and every licenced athlete of his ban. In the past, several riders were banned for just three months because they claimed they did not know Ferrari had been banned in 2002.
According to the Associated Press news agency in Rome, the CONI is acting on investigations by police and prosecutors in Padua and Bolzano who allege that Michele and Stefano Ferrari supplied the Taschlers with banned drugs. Recently published phone conversations from 2010 suggest that Dr. Ferrari explained to Taschler how to take EPO and told him to obtain an unidentified telephone number to call Ferrari via a secret Swiss number.
Doping is a crime in Italy, and Ferrari was cleared on appeal in 2006 of criminal charges of distributing banned products to athletes despite evidence from several witnesses, including Filippo Simeoni. A long-running investigation in Padua into Ferrari’s operations and the role of his son Stefano has failed to reach a conclusion, but Ferrari risks further shame if caught doping athletes yet again.
Ferrari still runs a coaching business but recently claimed he had retired from coaching professional athletes when speaking to Italian journalist Marco Bonarrigo of the Corriere della Sera newspaper.
“I’ve retired and I’m not interested in coaching anymore," he told Bonarrigo. "They still go fast, even without me: you saw the Tour de France didn’t you?”