Dr. Michele Ferrari is facing trail in Bolzano for allegedly helping Italian biathlete Daniel Taschler to dope.
Ferrari, who is notorious for working with Lance Armstrong and a number of other high-profile riders, has always denied any wrong doing but will be back in court in Bolzano in early 2016, 10 years after managing to clear his name on appeal in a Bologna trial that also accused him of doping.
This time Ferrari is facing trial after allegedly giving advice to Taschler on how to take EPO during the 2010-2011 winter season. Gottlieb Taschler — a vice president of the international federation and Daniel Taschler’s father is also facing trial after putting his son in touch with Dr. Ferrari. Both have denied any wrong doing.
Ferrari was also banned for life by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) in the 2012 case that led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France victories. Ferrari was banned for life by the Italian Cycling Federation in 2002 but has recently appealed to a regional court to have the ban lifted because of a WADA rule change. He claims the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) failed to properly notify him and every licenced athlete of his ban. In the past, several riders were banned for just three months because they claimed they did not know Ferrari had been banned in 2002.
This latest investigation was sparked by the Padua investigation which helped uncover financial payments from Armstrong to Dr. Ferrari and other evidence that was used to condemn the Texan. It was moved to Bolzano because the first contact between Taschler and Dr. Ferrari is alleged to have occurred near the biathlete’s home.
Gazzetta dello Sport has published details of an alleged telephone conversation between the two that is a key piece of evidence.
“In a vein?” Taschler asks. “In a vein,” is the reply. “Always 1000?” “Always 1000”. The Bolzano public prosecutor believes the two are talking about EPO.
Dr. Ferrari also allegedly tells Taschler to obtain a different telephone number to call him. “If you use your phone, they can find you thanks to that number,” Ferrari is reported to say.
Dr. Ferrari is famous for comparing EPO to orange juice in 1994 when he worked with the Gewiss team that dominated racing at the time.
“EPO is not dangerous, it's the abuse that is. It's also dangerous to drink 10 liters of orange juice,” he reportedly told l’Equipe and other European media.
The Italian Olympic Committee has already opened an investigation into the Taschler-Ferrari case and questioned Taschler. Ferrari and his son Stefano – who is suspected of running his father business, did not turn up for questioning in early September.
Dr. Ferrari still runs a coaching business but recently claimed he had retired from coaching professional athletes when speaking to Italian journalist Marco Bonarrigo of the Corriere della Sera newspaper. Ferrari recently tried to block the showing of 'The Program' in Italy, the movie that told the story of David Walsh's pursuit of Lance Armstrong. A scene protrayed Dr. Ferrari injecting EPO but he claimed it was not true.
“I’ve retired and I’m not interested in coaching anymore," he told Bonarrigo. "They still go fast, even without me: you saw the Tour de France didn’t you?”
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