Italian documents reveal details of Dr Ferrari's doping skills

Documents released by USADA reveal the important role of Italian police in the investigation into doping, with Padua-based public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti and his officers uncovering details of the huge financial payments between Lance Armstrong, other riders and Dr Michele Ferrari.

Police also uncovered evidence of Kevin Livingston's visits to Dr Ferrari and of email exchanges between Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and Stefano Ferrari – Dr Ferrari's son, who managed the financial and business aspects of his father's activities.

Some of the most damning Italian evidence against Dr Ferrari comes from a detailed confession by Leonardo Bertagnolli. In a sworn statement, he told police how Ferrari told him to take EPO and how to blood dope, despite him suffering with a thyroid problem.

Italian police tapped phones and seemed to have planted listening devices on Bertagnolli as he visited Dr Ferrari for tests and doping advice. Bertagnolli rode for Lampre-ISD this year but retired in June after the UCI requested the opening of an anti-doping investigation based on information provided by his biological passport. Following the USADA revelations, Bertagnolli has been summoned for questioning in Rome by the Italian Anti-Doping Procura on October 16. 

In his statement given to Italian police on May 11, 2011, Bertagnolli said he started working with Dr Ferrari in 2007 after getting permission from Roberto Amadio and Roberto Corsetti – his team manager and team doctor at the Liquigas team at the time. He agreed to pay Ferrari 12,000 Euro a year.

Pellizotti, Kreuziger, Gasparotto, Chicchi

Bertagnolli claimed in his statement that Dr Ferrari explained how to avoid testing positive for EPO by taking micro doses of the drug injected into a vein while at an altitude training camp in St Moritz. He claimed that numerous of his Liquigas teammates from 2007 also worked with Dr Ferrari.

"We talked about it between us and the team knew: Pellizotti, Kreuziger, Gasparotto, Chicchi," the statement reads. "I remember that in 2007 I also saw Popovych and Bileka."

Bertagnolli also detailed how Ferrari explained how to blood dope following the introduction of the ADAMS whereabouts protocol that improved out of competition anti-doping controls.

"It was Ferrari who even indicated the kind of fridge to buy (to keep the blood), giving me a leaflet. I bought I myself. Ferrari told me the temperature to conserve the blood," Bertagnolli's statement reads.

"He advised me how to do the transfusions, saying to take out the blood before going to altitude and then putting it back after altitude, so to better justify the changes in haematocrit and reticolytes, etc."

Ferrari has always denied doping practices, most recently on his website.

He wrote on July 12: “I have NEVER witnessed any kind of doping practices taking place within the USPS team: I never went to races and at the team training camps I have attended, I was simply performing functional testing and making training programs.”

“With regards to the alleged testimonies of riders, some were infamous protagonists of unfortunate events and documented lies; the others probably are those "semi-Champions" who chose to dope, chasing dreams of glory and money or just for envy, organizing it all themselves for their own sake.”

Amadio and Crosetti have yet to respond to the allegations.

Thank you for reading 5 articles in the past 30 days*

Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read any 5 articles for free in each 30-day period, this automatically resets

After your trial you will be billed £4.99 $7.99 €5.99 per month, cancel anytime. Or sign up for one year for just £49 $79 €59

Join now for unlimited access

Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Stephen Farrand
Head of News

Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has been Head of News at Cyclingnews since 2022, before which he held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and CyclingWeekly, among other publications.