The Italian Olympic Committee’s (CONI) anti-doping procura is to question Giovanni Visconti, Leonardo Bertagnolli and Michele Scarponi next week about their alleged implication in the Padova-based doping investigation.
In a statement released on Wednesday afternoon, CONI said that the three riders will appear in Rome on June 27 “to be heard in regard to press reports relating to the inquiry of the procura of Padova.” The Padova investigation is understood to be centred on the activities of Dr. Michele Ferrari, the notorious Italian sports doctor.
In April 2011, Scarponi and his Lampre-ISD teammate Leonardo Bertagnolli had their hotel rooms searched by police during a training camp at Mount Etna, and Gazzetta dello Sport reported that investigators in Padova suspected the pair of being clients of Ferrari. Their Lampre team claimed that the only items found were the anti-inflammatory medicine Oki, powdered milk and Enervit energy bars.
The following week, Gazzetta reported that police officers had searched Visconti’s home as part of the same investigation. The Italian champion Visconti, then at Farnese Vini, now rides for Movistar.
Michele Ferrari was banned by the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) over 10 years ago 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.
Visconti, Bertagnolli and Scarponi will be heard separately by CONI next Wednesday at 11 am, 12 pm and 1 pm respectively.
Scarponi previously served a suspension for his implication in Operacion Puerto, after he confessed to working with Spanish blood doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
CONI’s summons of Scarponi, Bertagnolli and Visconti follows its questioning of Filippo Pozzato (Farnese Vini-Selle Italia) in Rome on Tuesday. La Repubblica reported last weekend that investigators in Padova had intercepted a phone call from 2009 in which Pozzato spoke of working with Ferrari.
According to Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday, Pozzato allegedly told the CONI hearing that he had consulted with Ferrari from 2005 to 2009, but insisted that he had only received training advice from him.
Last week, the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced that it had charged Ferrari, Lance Armstrong and Johan Bruyneel with doping, and it is believed that some of the evidence used to build their case was provided by investigators in Padova.
The Padova investigation, led by Benedetto Roberti, first came to public prominence in the summer of 2010, and Alessandro Petacchi was called before CONI to discuss his implication in the inquiry.