Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has published details of the international investigation into the activities of Dr. Michele Ferrari and his many clients, including Lance Armstrong, Denis Menchov and Michele Scarponi.
Ferrari remains banned for life by the Italian Cycling Federation based on rider testimony and other evidence that he provided doping products to athletes, but was cleared of criminal charges in 2006. Any rider shown to have worked with Ferrari face a sporting ban.
However, the prestigious Milan-based broadsheet quotes from detailed police documents, lifting the lid on the investigation being carried out in Italy, Switzerland and the USA, and suggesting that 30 people are suspected of being part of a criminal association.
Italian rider agent Raimondo Scimone is also named in the article and described as the organiser of the network between sponsors, teams, banks and riders. Armstrong is not under investigation in the case because he is based in the USA. However, Corriere della Sera reports that investigators in Los Angeles have formally requested information on the investigation.
The seven-time Tour de France winner has been linked to Ferrari several times over the years. Last year his spokesman Mark Fabiani said that Armstrong had not had a professional relationship with Ferrari since 2004 but admitted that he occasionally sees the Ferrari family, with the last time being in 2010, before his final Tour de France.
Armstrong never tested positive during his long career and has always denied accusations of doping.
Corriere della Sera claims that Armstrong made a series of payments to a company based in Neufchatel, Switzerland. The company has been closed down but investigators believe Dr Ferrari was linked to it. Police apparently tapped phone calls during the investigation and reportedly captured several calls between Armstrong and Dr Ferrari's son Stefano. Armstrong seemingly called Ferrari with the code name of 'Number One'.
It seems Ferrari used a series of international mobile phones and special IT systems to communicate with his clients. He often followed them closely at races and in training with a camper van. He was spotted by police in Sankt Moritz and at various locations in Italy, close to riders' homes.
A bag full of cash
Corriere Della Sera reports that several riders and a sports doctor were intercepted by Italian and Swiss police as they visited banks. The doctor was stopped as he left a bank in Sankt Moritz apparently with a bag that was described in police reports as 'full of cash'.
Police are investigating possible acts of money laundering, fraud and doping and it seems police have already seized 2.4 million Euro from Menchov's accounts, with a total of 10 million Euro seized during the investigation.
The newspaper quotes what it claims is a section of the official police report: "Because earnings increase with the increase of victories and results, the use of illegal banned substances becomes the easiest way to score the points needed by the rider and their teams and so earn the significant contracts. This illegal system is economically advantageous for the athlete, for the doctor who can increase his fee, the agent who is paid a percentage of the contract, and even the defence lawyers."
Raimondo Scimone responded to Cyclingnews in a text message, saying: "It's a joke, with the investigation based on science fiction, without any kind of truth to it. And anyway, the investigation is still underway."
Italian police in Padua refused to give any details of their investigation to Cyclingnews.
Fabiani and Armstrong’s personal assistant Mark Higgins did not reply to calls from Cyclingnews.
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