Italian press says Armstrong secretly paid Ferrari via Swiss company

Padua investigation also reported to have seized funds from Menchov and Scarponi

by Simon_MacMichael   September 22, 2011  

Lance Armstrong (pic courtesy Photosport International)

Italian prosecutors investigating doping within professional cycling are reported to have unravelled a complex web spanning prohibited substances, tax fraud and money laundering that allegedly includes annual payments of €250,000 being made by Lance Armstrong to the banned doctor, Michele Ferrari, via an anonymous company in Switzerland. Other cyclists implicated in the inquiry are said to include Denis Menchov and Michele Scarponi, both of whom are said to have had funds seized.

Working alongside Swiss colleagues, the ongoing enquiry based in Padua led by public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti is said to have established that the payments were made by Armstrong to his former trainer via a company based in Neuchatel called Health and Performance, reports the Milan-based newspaper, La Corriere della Sera.

Armstrong has consistently denied accusations of doping publicly levelled at him in the media by former US Postal Service team mates Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton, with George Hincapie also reported to have told a US Federal Grand Jury that he joined the Texan cyclist in taking performance enhancing substances.

The seven times Tour de France champion has claimed that he stopped working with Ferrari in 2004, but admitted earlier this year that he continues to see him and his family on a social basis. Ferrari was cleared of charges of supplying athletes with doping products in 2006, but remains banned from practising as a sports doctor in Italy.

Despite that, the Corriere della Sera says that investigators insist that Ferrari has carried on working with between 20 and 30 leading cyclists including, Armstrong himself, who announced his definitive retirement in February this year.

The paper, which says that Ferrari’s son was also involved in the doping ring and was in contact with Armstrong prior to last year’s Tour de France, adds that former Giro d’Italia and Vuelta champion Menchov, now racing for Geox-TMC, and the Lampre-ISD rider Michele Scarponi, third in this year’s Giro, are also in the investigators’ sights.

Menchov, who has never been sanctioned for doping, has reportedly had €2.4 million seized from his bank account. Funds have also been sequestered from Scarponi, who served a ban following Operacion Puerto and who has twice been searched by officers acting for the enquiry this year, who discovered a white substance that claimed was powdered milk.

The Corriere della Sera, which says that Ferrari in effect operated a mobile clinic from a camper van to enable him to elude investigators, says that in all some 30 people may face charges as a result of the enquiry.

Other cyclists who have reportedly been investigated as part of the enquiry include RadioShack’s Yaroslav Popovyvh, the Katusha pair of Vladimir Karpets and Vladimir Gusev, and Team Sky’s Morris Possoni.
 

25 user comments

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Armstrong is retired and still an absolute champion.

It would be so good if all the digging stopped. Even if he had doped he'd never admit it, this will achieve nothing except tarnishing the sport further. And personally I don't care anyway.

And even if he did, so what? Any given TDF he won, the other 4 guys in the top 5 have either been done for doping or are alleged to have doped. There's a chart of it somewhere, pretty staggering.

Road.cc a moratorium on 'Armstrong may have doped' stories would be very welcome from you and the whole cycling community.

rrrrrrrrr.

posted by kaptnkrunch [57 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 11:34

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@kaptnkrunch You'd have had a good career as a censor of newspapers in the USSR. You can't just not report certain stories about cycling because you don't happen to find them convenient. Get real!

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 11:50

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londonplayer wrote:
@kaptnkrunch You'd have had a good career as a censor of newspapers in the USSR. You can't just not report certain stories about cycling because you don't happen to find them convenient. Get real!

It's not about convenience. It's about endless tedium of dragging it up over and over again.

rrrrrrrrr.

posted by kaptnkrunch [57 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 12:16

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kaptnkrunch wrote:
And even if he did, so what? Any given TDF he won, the other 4 guys in the top 5 have either been done for doping or are alleged to have doped.

I would agree that even if he doped, he was still an extraordinary rider. But that doesn't mean it doesn't matter if he did or not.

where should we stop 'the digging'? is testing current riders 'digging'? where's the line? If contador retires tomorrow and we get some firm, incriminating evidence in meatgate, are we allowed to 'dig' there?

Dave Atkinson's picture

posted by Dave Atkinson [7262 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 12:29

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Surely it's newsworthy that one of the greatest living cyclists (whether doped or not) paid money to a doctor banned because of doping practices. Would your attitude be the same if this was a story about Ricardo Rossi (he may as well be retired)? The fact he lied repeatedly on this point is surely worth reporting irrespective of any 'assistance' he may have had off Ferrari.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [538 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 13:12

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Rossi is an idiot, and I'm equally uninterested in any stories about him.

Paying money to Ferrari doesn't = doping. He was a great sports doctor without doping according to various cycling biographies.

@dave_atkinson. No, testing current riders isn't digging, but trying to find evidence someone doped 5 years ago after they've retired is.

rrrrrrrrr.

posted by kaptnkrunch [57 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 13:22

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it's a little naive to think any cyclist struggling to match his own high expectations would pay a convicted doping doctor 250k euros into a third party account for anything else. I'm sure Lance has a pretty good private health care scheme. Whether he did or not though, he still fibbed. Repeatedly.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [538 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 13:41

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kaptnkrunch wrote:
No, testing current riders isn't digging, but trying to find evidence someone doped 5 years ago after they've retired is.

So current testing is okay, but evidence from 5yrs ago isn't. I'm just wondering where the line is for you. One year? Two? Or does someone just need to retire to be immune from investigation?

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posted by Dave Atkinson [7262 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 13:55

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I Think the Armstrong story is a spectre that hangs over pro cycling. Whatever you think of Doping, I think its shitty, It can't be ignored because some people may find the subject matter tiresome. I'd love it if Armstrong was innocent, it doesn't look that way though.

posted by Dog72 [108 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 14:22

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Sadly, the whole dope enforcement system is broken. Whether its UCI, WADA, ASO, CONI, French or US authorities there's little real co-ordination. Suppose it's not Armstrong's fault its taken so long to get to at least some of these facts. A cynic may think that the Feds or Italians can be more belligerent in their enquiries now he's not so much in the limelight.

I agree though that the problem's more acute in the Contador case as it affects riders riding today.

arrieredupeleton

posted by arrieredupeleton [538 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 15:01

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Jacques Anquetil said ( well he said it in French) "you don't win the TdF on mineral water". He should be investigated. And Indurain. And Merckx.

In fact, it would probably save time to simply declare the last 100 years or so of the TdF null and void

vorsprung's picture

posted by vorsprung [289 posts]
22nd September 2011 - 16:50

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That Armstrong could have allowed himself to be self deluded to the point that he felt it ok to manipulate the system to win 7 TDFs in a row and also start a very worthy international charity as a shield are what keeps the story running.

It's shaping up as the most fabulous cautionary tale of individual redemption, achievement, weakness and impending destruction to come out of world sport for 80 years.

Armstrong's last words on the Champs Elysee after win 7 were all about feeling 'sorry for those that don't believe'.

Even the most cynical of us want to support such a statement as we all know that if we get to the point where there is nothing but cheating then what will be the point of following pro cycling? There may be no solution to doping but suggesting we all grow up, shrug our cynical shoulders, submit to a darker moral compass and say "I'm bored of this story now' isn't the right answer. Personally I'm fascinated so keep it up Road.CC!

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1031 posts]
23rd September 2011 - 0:46

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Mention of Merckx is interesting. A champion who beat; by a considerable margin; every other rider in his day. Does that remind you of Armstrong? Much doping was not illegal then, what testing there was ineffectual... Time has passed and he is a well respected elder statesman of the sport.
The issue with Armstrong is that samples still exist, testing is improving and evidence building. The media wants a head and like nothing better than to shatter an idol. And so it goes on...
The sport is 'tarnished' already but I still enjoy it as do thousands of others. Maybe we should bring it to an end... Thinking

Felix

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posted by Felix [109 posts]
23rd September 2011 - 17:06

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There is a difference with Anquetil, Simpson, Merckx and as you rightly say, nearly all the riders of that era.

I would express it as saying yes they doped, but it wasn't until the 90s that the art of Performing Enhancing drugs was refined.

Mostly those guys were taking amphetamines and other stuff which arguably was performance-reducing, at least physically. The mental effect in terms of concentration or the ability to ignore pain and tiredness was the main effect. A temporary charge and one that was used when necessary.

By the 90s you've got EPO and HGH coming in - much more organised and routine, taken as part of training and planned regular usage. And the reason why so many people are still keen to pursue Armstrong over it is the suspicion that he took even that to new levels of professionalism and organisation.

I equate that much more with cheating in the sense that it was designed specifically to improve their physical capability to levels not otherwise achievable, rather than simply allowing them to mentally maintain levels they had already achieved.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [499 posts]
23rd September 2011 - 18:11

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Firstly, this isn't just about Armstrong $crewing over the Tour de France and the UCI, but the whole LiveStrong myth that's been completely built on false-idolatry and suckering millions of people to a 'good cause' of 'cancer awareness' and making a healthy living off the proceeds - if folks still think that's a worthy cause, they go ahead! He wasn't cheating on the level; he was in the privileged position of having advance notice of testing and then paying off the authorities to make them go away.
This gave him the power to pay and corrupt many others e.g. Trek's treatment of Greg Lemond who 'dared' question the myth.
To make comparisons with Merckx is laughable - at 19 Merckx was winning the Tour & the Giro whereas Armstrong was distinctly mid-packing and losing 6 minutes in TT's to the likes of Indurain. The ergogenic benefits of stimulants is incomparable to the donkey-to-racehorse transformation some can achieve by blood and hormone manipulation.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [358 posts]
23rd September 2011 - 18:55

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Amazing doublethink by Armstrong supporters...the same folks who dog-piled on everybody from Ullrich to Ricco now suddenly "don't care" about doping. This guy (LA) was a fraud from day one, a good but not great rider who catapulted himself to the top with a combination of drug and mind games, brilliantly executed. And now we should just "forgive and forget"??? No way, baby, he's going down! Big Grin

velocodger's picture

posted by velocodger [7 posts]
23rd September 2011 - 20:04

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The stories have to be reported otherwise Lance doesn't stand a chance of getting clear of the thunderstorm surrounding him. Innocent until proven guilty is what we should be upholding. There is a lot of circumstantial evidence and hearsay. However I personally believe that he doped and he was either lead or was helped by others to develop the organisation required to dope other cyclists.
This new financial tack seems to be bearing benefits and there must be some strong evidence to be able to seize assets. My biggest fear for Lance and his supporters is when the irrefutable evidence is found what does he do, top himself? The baying mob that he may have duped will be horrified. The fallout for the UCI and others if any collusion is shown will sting, but they'll regroup and carry on.

posted by Hobett [24 posts]
24th September 2011 - 8:54

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There was an article not long ago (which was well subscribed to) on the forum about how ineffectual a certain Police force was for not doing everything they could to find and punish a culprit.

Now we get the same people saying "dont investigate cos it's a long time ago". Double standards me thinks.

If Armstrong is guilty so be it, if not then good, but it needs to be sorted one way or the other to put the story to bed for good. Thinking

If you must break the law, do it to seize power: in all other cases observe it. Gaius Julius Caesar.

stumps's picture

posted by stumps [2677 posts]
24th September 2011 - 9:54

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Velocodger said:

"And now we should just "forgive and forget"??? No way, baby, he's going down! Big Grin

"

Absolutely.

Don't take off the yellow wrist bands - but salute the cause and not the man.

Silly me. You're probably right....

MercuryOne's picture

posted by MercuryOne [1031 posts]
24th September 2011 - 11:56

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Sorry but this guy (LA) was not that great before he starts cheating and after had the worst behavior of everyone, hefocuses on TdF and didn't made anyhting else, for this he doped his whole team, intimidate and ban from the peloton those who where questionning, bribed UCI, sacked Lemond took an interest in Trek, Oackley and finally abuse everybody with its fondation.
I can forgive to the man but on a moral point of view his whole career should be demolished. No mercy for him or use the same he had with Simonetti and Basson.
Angry

Philippe

posted by aloxe [8 posts]
24th September 2011 - 15:46

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D'acc!

velocodger's picture

posted by velocodger [7 posts]
24th September 2011 - 17:03

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I've got my own thoughts on whether he cheated or not and until it's proven one way or another, they'll remain opinion rather than fact but I don't think we can just say "It's over and done with now" as he's built a business on those tour victories and denying doping.

Course, given how much of an ass he comes across as (just see his tweets to a "fellow" cancer sufferer over the other guy's comments about wanting support, not yellow wrist bands) I don't consider him to be much of a hero anyway.

posted by atlaz [152 posts]
24th September 2011 - 17:50

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I'm a great believer in Karma - not from a religious perspective, more based on the law of averages. If Armstrong has doped, then we need to know - and I'm sure we will, given time. Gaining status and wealth as a result of conning the cycling fraternity needs to be addressed. If I had done it, I would assuredly be behind bars a long time ago.

If guilty, then the amount of glory and adulation accrued over 7-wins in the TDF will, no doubt, come back to bite him on the arse, 10-fold; let's see if he can livestrong after that!

If innocent, then surely we can doff our caps to the might of the man, but everyone has a right to know.

Keep this story running please!

Chris D

posted by wingsofspeed68 [49 posts]
24th September 2011 - 19:38

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monty dog wrote:
Firstly, this isn't just about Armstrong $crewing over the Tour de France and the UCI, but the whole LiveStrong myth that's been completely built on false-idolatry and suckering millions of people to a 'good cause' of 'cancer awareness' and making a healthy living off the proceeds - if folks still think that's a worthy cause, they go ahead! He wasn't cheating on the level; he was in the privileged position of having advance notice of testing and then paying off the authorities to make them go away.
This gave him the power to pay and corrupt many others e.g. Trek's treatment of Greg Lemond who 'dared' question the myth.
To make comparisons with Merckx is laughable - at 19 Merckx was winning the Tour & the Giro whereas Armstrong was distinctly mid-packing and losing 6 minutes in TT's to the likes of Indurain. The ergogenic benefits of stimulants is incomparable to the donkey-to-racehorse transformation some can achieve by blood and hormone manipulation.

+ 1... Great post monty dog, I agree entirely

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posted by Paulo [108 posts]
24th September 2011 - 20:28

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Only problem with Chris D's comment " If Armstrong has doped, then we need to know - and I'm sure we will, given time" is how does he prove he didn't do something. The usual proof is not failing drugs tests, are we saying that we need some higher level of proof for Lance? Are we saying he has to disprove every accusation thrown at him? And for how long - 10 years, 20 years, 50 years? People who don't/didn't like him can always bring out another accusation and it'll never end, so never be fully proven either way.

arthur e

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posted by arthur e [4 posts]
26th September 2011 - 10:46

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