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by Shane Stokes
December 11, 2014
Some of the riders named early Wednesday as being clients of Michele Ferrari’s doping network have issued denials that this was the case. The names of 35 professional riders were published in La Gazzetta dello Sport, having been exposed as part of the ongoing Padova investigation.
It is understood that a similar number are yet to be named, and will presumably be made public at some point in the future.
One of those named was the Italian rider Marco Marcato who, during the 2010-2011 period dealt with by the investigation, was racing with the Vacansoleil DCM team. He recently signed a two year deal with the Wanty-Groupe Gobert squad.
“I never had any sort of connection with Dr. Ferrari. I never knew this man, I have never met him and I have never talked with him,” the 2012 Paris-Tours winner said in a statement issued via his new squad.
“I want to defend my image which is strongly affected by this article. I am available to the authorities to answer all the questions and to prove my innocence in this matter.”
Also insisting he has been unfairly blamed is the Spaniard JJ Rojas, who has been part of the Caisse d’Epargne/Movistar setup since 2007. Following the publication of his name, the Spanish newspaper AS published details of exchanges between Rojas and Stefano Ferrari, Michele’s son and someone who is regarded as a go-between for his father.
“[Regarding] what was published today,” said Rojas via Twitter. “I exchanged several mails with Stefano Ferrari about my training. Everything else is baseless rumours. None of this has to do with my team. I hope and desire that we are not unfairly affected by this fallacy. All this happened in the 2010 season, when that person was neither prohibited nor imputed.”
At the time it was prohibited for Italian riders to deal with Michele Ferrari. The worldwide ban relating to his father came into existence in 2012.
However the contact between Rojas and the Ferrari family will inevitably lead to questions about doping.
Another Movistar rider who has also tried to distance himself from the claims is the Italian Giovanni Visconti. He issued a blunt tweet ending with a vulgarity, telling those who he claimed falsely accused him to ‘go f**’ themselves, but later deleted it.
In December 2012 he was given a €10,000 euro fine plus told to pay legal costs of €1,000 for working with Ferrari.
He was also handed a three month suspension but, bizarrely, that was applied during the off season.