Michele Scarponi, awarded the overall victory in the 2011 Giro d’Italia after Alberto Contador was stripped of that title, has admitted that he trained the preceding autumn with the banned doctor, Michele Ferrari, after the Gazzetta dello Sport today published details of an intercepted conversation between the pair.
Since 2002, Italian cyclists associating with Ferrari have faced the prospect of a six-month ban. While Scarponi, who previously received an 18-month ban for his involvement in Operacion Puerto, has admitted in a statement published by Tuttobici that in September 2010 he trained with Ferrari – now also subject to a worldwide ban as the result of the US Postal scandal – the Gazzetta dello Sport claims that he was still working with him as the Giro d’Italia approached.
Today’s allegations in the Italian sports daily build on its report yesterday that prosecutors in Padova have unravelled a €30 million doping ring based around Ferrari.
Investigators led by Padova magistrate Benedetto Roberti believe that money was laundered through a Monaco based company called T&F and onwards, via Swiss bank accounts belonging to the riders involved, to accounts in Ferrari’s name in Switzerland. Scarponi strongly denies any dealings with a company called T&F.
What he does admit, however, is training under Ferrari’s supervision in September 2010, making the excuse that he had finished working with Androni Giocattoli and had not yet started riding with Lampre. It’s an excuse that is unlikely to impress the authorities.
The Gazzetta dello Sport has published details of conversations between Ferrari and Scarponi that took place in the doctor’s camper van, which had been bugged by investigators, while it was parked at Monzuno in the Appenines south of Bologna.
According to the newspaper, the rider continued to maintain contact with Ferrari after that, and it insists that in 2011 he did have a false image rights contract with T&F.
If that turns out to be true – and it is an element of the story that Scarponi denies – that could mean a belated wedding present for the newlywed Vincenzo Nibali, who finished the 2011 Giro in third place behind Contador and Scarponi.
Also specifically mentioned by the Gazzetta as allegedly having availed themselves of Ferrari’s services during the period under investigation are the Katusha pair of Denis Menchov and Alexandre Kolobnev and Olympic champion Alexandre Vinokourov, now retired.
Michele Scarponi’s statement:
Once again, instead of addressing technical issues regarding competitive cycling, the main ones for which an athlete is "covered "by the media, I find myself having to state some principles to comment upon and challenge that which appeared in the Gazzetta dello Sport today, October 19, under the byline of Luigi Perna. This article refers to an intercepted conversation of my meeting with Dr. Ferrari. While this is not the appropriate forum to discuss it, there are incorrect references that I have to take a stand on to protect my image and safeguard the reputation of the companies that currently support me. To learn about elements of investigation through the press and not the competent authoritie is at minimum unfair, since that investigation still in progress.
Here’s the truth: In September 2010, I, under my own initiative, took part in an episodic test, in reality divided into two parts on two different days in the presence of Dr. Ferrari. The racing season was coming to an end, as was my relationship with the Androni Giocattoli team [which Scarponi raced for from 2008 to 2010] and I had not yet started my relationship with Team Lampre.
After the subsequent signing of the contract with Team Lampre, effective 1 January 2011, I wholly entrusted myself to the instructions of the team’s internal staff and the Centro Mapei for everything related to preparation and training.
I was subject to a raid in April 2011 while I was on a training camp at altitude on Etna together with other members of my team and, contemporaneaously, at my home, receiving an avviso di garanzia [formal notification of investigation] from the prosecutors’ office in Padava; I showed the relvant statement to my team and testimony that no illegal drug had been found (the article states that in neither search were illegal drugs found).
I wish to clarify that I have never had a relationship nor have I signed contracts with any company with the name T & F. Any other statement outside of this objective reality is to be considered false and damages my image and the image of my current team, for which any authors will be held responsible and will be called by my lawyers to respond in all appropriate locations.
My lawyers have already made contact with the Anti-Doping prosecutors’ office of CONI [the Italian Olympic committee] to clarify my position, as previously estanblished in June 2012.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.