Astana team leader Jakob Fuglsang is allegedly being investigated for possible links to banned doping doctor Michele Ferrari, according to a report published in the Danish news outlet Politiken. The allegations are based on intelligence gained in an investigation commissioned by Cycling Anti-doping Foundation (CADF).
Astana have declined to comment on the allegations stating that they have not been formally contacted by the UCI or CADF, according to the Politiken. In addition, Ferrari has not responded to Politiken's phone calls and text messages regarding the CADF investigation.
Three news outlets – Politiken, along with Danish state television DR and Norwegian daily VG – report that they have read the 24-page document commissioned by CADF, which they state was written by an external agency.
The document was reportedly based on intelligence that link Fuglsang with Ferrari. Politiken reports that the intelligence may have come from whistleblowers and any witnesses to illegal activities.
Politiken have published segments and statements from the CADF document that allege Fuglsang could be under a doping program designed by Ferrari. It also points to Fuglsang's Astana teammate Alexey Lutsenko as being present to a meeting between Fuglsang and Ferrari.
"CADF intelligence indicates that Astana Pro Team cyclist Jakob Fuglsang is under Michele Ferrari's doping program, and that teammate Alexey Lutsenko was present during at least one meeting between the two in Nice/Monaco," the CADF report says, according to Politiken.
Politiken also states that the CADF document suggests that Ferrari is still involved in providing athletes at the Astana Pro Team with doping programs and that he travels to meet with athletes at races and other locations such as Monaco.
"Specifically, intelligence provided by CADF indicates that Michele Ferrari was present at the Volta a Catalunya with the Astana Pro Team in March 2019, has a base in Lugano, Switzerland, and has recently met with Fuglsang and Lutsenko in Nice and/or Monaco," Politiken quoted the CADF report.
Fuglsang joined Astana Pro Team in 2013 and has had one of his most successful seasons last year where he won Vuelta a Andalucía, a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico, Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the Critérium du Dauphiné, a stage of the Vuelta a España, as well as taking podium spots at Strade Bianche, La Flèche Wallonne and Amstel Gold Race.
Ferrari was banned for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for doping Lance Armstrong and other riders from the US Postal Service team and Discovery Channel teams during Armstrong's seven-year reign on the Tour de France.
As part of that life-time ban, Ferrari is not permitted to act as a consultant to athletes. Ferrari has always denied any wrongdoing.
Politiken have said that it has confronted Fuglsang, Lutsenko and Astana with the CADF document and the damning allegations. Politiken said that it has had no comment yet from Fuglsang, but that Lutsenko and Astana have decided not to comment because they felt the document was based on 'indications and rumours' and that they have had no official communication with the UCI or CADF.
Politiken have stated that it has, along with DR and VG, spoken with 12 people close to the sport who have said that Fuglsang has allegedly been working with Ferrari, and that one athlete had seen Fuglsang being motor-paced by Ferrari in Monaco.
Astana's manager Alexander Vinokourov admitted he had ties to Ferrari up until 2007, when he was banned for blood doping. However, he said his connection to Ferrari was only for training. He was then linked to Ferrari in the 2014 Padova investigation. In that investigation, 38 names, along with several riders from the Astana team including Denis Menchov and Roman Kreuziger were linked to Ferrari.
Politiken requested comments from CADF but it declined to comment on an on-going investigation. Michael Ask is the CEO of Anti-Doping Denmark also declined to comment on the CADF report.
The UCI has provided Politiken, DR and VG with a statement saying that it works independently of CADF. It said that it had not, yet, received a report from CADF, however, it is following the case closely.
"As of today, the UCI has not received a report from the CADF in order to initiate proceedings against the individuals and the team mentioned. Our Federation is following this case closely and will take the appropriate measures in the interests of cycling," the UCI told Politiken.
Cyclingnews has contacted both Fuglsang and Astana. The Danish rider has not returned calls or messages, while Astana have stated that they hope to release a statement later Monday morning.
Update from Astana
The Astana team released the below statement on Monday, February 3. When asked directly by Cyclingnews if Fuglsang had met with Ferrari since joining the team in 2013, the team responded with a no comment, adding that Fuglsang would release a statement at a later stage.
"Astana Pro team has taken note of the press article by Danish and Norwegian media relating to the existence of an alleged confidential report by CADF suspecting some riders of the team to have been in contact with banned Dr Michele Ferrari.
Astana Pro Team is committed to the fight against doping in sport. The team requires from all its affiliated riders that they comply all time with all obligations under anti-doping regulations, including the prohibition to be associated with banned individuals or doctors. The team does not collaborate with any suspicious doctor, such as Dr Michele Ferrari. The riders are not authorized to consult any doctors external to the team in order to perform any activity, or to be prescribed any diet or treatment, related to their performance.
The licence of Astana Pro Team has been renewed for the year 2020, confirming the full compliance by the team with all its obligations, including in terms of fight against doping in cycling.
The team is in contact with the UCI and CADF in order to know more; it will collaborate with any inquiry that could be opened by CADF or the UCI.
However, for the time being, no procedure has been initiated against any rider affiliated to the team. The Astana Pro Team trusts that if the CADF had any evidence of wrongdoing by any rider of the team, disciplinary proceedings would have been immediately initiated in accordance with anti-doping regulations and the World Anti-doping Code."
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