Anti-doping prosecutors at CONI, the Italian national Olympic committee, have today requested that 2011 Giro d’Italia champion Michele Scarponi and former national road champion Giovanni Visconti each be banned for three months for consulting and training with the banned doctor Michele Ferrari.
The sanction being sought is the same as that handed down to Filippo Pozzato shortly before this summer’s Olympic Games as a result of his own association with Ferrari.
Riders registered with the Italian federation or UCI-registered riders present in Italy have been banned from associating with the controversial doctor since 2002, for which they face a ban of up to six months.
In the case of Scarponi and Visconti, the CONI prosecutors have stated that they reserve the right to issue further charges following the eventual closure of the ongoing Padua investigation into doping and other offences including money laundering and tax evasion.
Magistrates conducting that inquiry have placed Ferrari at the centre of a web that they say involves fictitious image rights contracts being drawn up for riders, enabling money to be moved between Italy and Switzerland via Monaco to pay for services provided by the doctor, who this summer received a lifetime ban from the United States Anti Doping Agency for his part in the US Postal scandal.
Earlier this month, Scarponi formally admitted to CONI prosecutors that he had trained under Ferrari’s supervision prior to joining Lampre at the end of 2010, but only to have tests performed. IN October, he had issued a statement confirming those training sessions after the Gazzetta dello Sport published details of a bugged conversation between the pair.
The 33-year-old, who was awarded the 2011 Giro title following Alberto Contador’s ban earlier this year, claims that he had no further involvement with the physician. He is currently suspended by his team while the disciplinary process continues.
Should he be found to have continued his association with Ferrari after joining Lampre, Scarponi could face the prospect of being stripped of that Giro win. The rider, who has previously erved a ban due to links to Operacion Puerto, finished runner-up to Contador, with Vincenzo Nibali third.
Visconti, three times Italian champion and now riding for Movistar, has not so far admitted any links to Ferrari.
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.