Armstrong, Ferrari relationship probed in Italian doping investigation

A current doping investigation in Italy has turned up evidence that Lance Armstrong and Michele Ferrari, a doctor banned from working with athletes, met as recently as 2010.

The Associated Press reported today that a source informed them that the two met repeatedly since Armstrong announced he had broken his working relationship with Ferrari in 2004.

The split came after Ferrari was convicted of malpractice by an Italian court and banned from working with riders for life by the Italian Olympic Commitee (CONI). Ferrari was later cleared of illegal acting as a pharmacist on appeal in 2006, while the accusations of sporting fraud by doping were quashed due to the slow legal process in Italy and the statute of limitations. Riders found to be working with him still face a possible sporting ban in Italy of between three and six months.

The AP report states that the ongoing investigation found that Armstrong met with Ferrari "over the past several years, usually in St. Moritz, Switzerland, or Monte Carlo, Monaco".

When asked about the information, Ferarri said to AP, "When, last year? Look, right now I don't remember," he said, "but I haven't had a professional relationship with Mr. Armstrong for a long time."

Armstrong's spokesman Mark Fabiani responded, "Lance has not had a professional relationship with Dr. Ferrari since 2004, but he remains friends with the doctor's family and sees them every once in a while. Lance last saw Dr. Ferrari about a year ago."

However, another facet of the investigation centres around the search of Armstrong's teammate Yaroslav Popovych, whose residence was searched last November, allegedly turning up evidence of a relationship between Ferrari and the RadioShack team.

The news comes a day after Italian police carried out searches of the homes of riders Michele Scarponi and Leonardo Bertagnolli and seized medical records for five past and present Katusha riders who they suspect of being clients of Ferrari.

Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport claimed that in addition to the Italian inquiries, the Swiss police have been monitoring Dr Ferrari's movements. Italian officials confirmed that the investigation is on going.

"We were looking to make a few connections and we found some of what we were looking for. But it's not finished yet," the Italian law enforcement official told AP. "It's all related to [Ferrari]."

Armrstrong announced his retirement from the sport earlier this year.

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