Padova/Ferrari investigation: 35 pro riders named, Astana and Radioshack suspected of systematic doping
A total of 35 current and former professional riders have been named by La Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday as being clients of Michele Ferrari, with this array uncovered during the Padova doping investigation.
The standout names include Alexandre Vinokourov (Kazakhstan), now the general manager of the Astana team, plus riders such as Roman Kreuziger (Czech Republic), Michele Scarponi, Giovanni Visconti, Filippo Pozzato (all Italy), Alexander Kolobnev and Denis Menchov (both Russia).
The latter was handed a biological passport suspension in July of this year and stripped of his results from the 2009, 2010 and 2012 Tours de France.
Kreuziger is currently fighting his own biological passport case. He was cleared by his home Olympic Committee but this decision has been appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Kreuziger was with Astana during the period in question and is now with Tinkoff Saxo.
He previously admitted working with Ferrari but claims he never doped and that he saw the doctor for training advice. According to La Gazzetta, Kreuziger ended their collaboration in 2011.
The full list printed by La Gazzetta includes seventeen Italian riders, namely Pozzato, Scarponi, Visconti, Leonardo Bertagnolli, Simone Boifava, Diego Caccia, Enrico Franzoi, Marco Frapporti, Omar Lombardi, Marco Marcato, Andrea Masciarelli, Francesco Masciarelli, Simone Masciarelli, Daniele Pietropolli, Morris Possoni, Alessandro Proni, Francesco Tizza.
There are also 18 others from different countries, including Vinokourov, Kreuziger, Kolobnev, Menchov, the Colombian Mauricio Ardila, Volodymyr Bileka (Ukraine), Borut Bozic (Slovenia), Maxim Gourov (Kazakhstan), Vladimir Gusev (Russia), Valentin Iglinskiy (Kazakhstan), Sergei Ivanov (Russia), Vladimir Karpets (Russia), Dimitri Kozontchuk (Russia), Evgeni Petrov (Russia), Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine), José Rojas (Spain), Ivan Rovny (Russia) and Egor Silin (Russia).
In addition to those, the Italian under 23 riders Ricardo Pichetta and Andrea Vaccher have been implicated, as has the Paralympic rider Fabrizio Macchi.
It is suspected that there was systematic doping on teams such as Astana and Radioshack, while the total list of teams with riders involved includes Liquigas, Lampre, Colnago, Geox, Androni, Katusha , Quick Step, CNF-Inox, Farnese Vini, Acqua & Sapone, Vacansoleil, ISD, CSF, LPR, Diquigiovanni, Tinkoff, Rabobank, Gerolsteiner and Milram
It is suggested that the final list of riders could be twice as big; another spate of names has not been made public at this point in time, and will likely be released at a later point.
The inquiry has been running for several years and a report totalling 550 pages has been submitted to the Italian Olympic Committee CONI. Sanctions are expected to follow. Total turnover from the scheme is estimated at 30 million euro.
In addition to doping, Ferrari’s network also offered assistance in evading detection by the biological passport system plus the option to avail of legal assistance in the event that riders were snared for the use of banned substances.
Tax evasion was also part of the setup, with the signing of dummy contracts plus the use of Swiss banks enabling riders to hide money. Some of this was then used to pay for doping.
In addition to Ferrari’s doping expertise, his network also drew upon the services of his son Stefano, the sports agent Raimondo Scimone, the Swiss bank official Edoardo Conceprio, the lawyer Rocco Taminelli and the scientific advisor Giuseppe Banfi.
He took various measures to try to avoid detection, including disposable SIM cards and VOIP internet communication.
The news is a further blow to the Astana team, which is battling to save its WorldTour licence. The UCI is awaiting the decision of the Licence Commission making the deliberation about that licence, and is expected to make that news public on Wednesday afternoon.
The Astana WorldTour and Continental teams have had a combined total of five positive tests in recent months.
WorldTour team riders Valentin and Maxim Iglinskiy both tested positive for EPO in August, while three riders with the Continental squad – namely Kazakhstan’s national champion Ilya Davidenok, Artur Fedosseyev and Victor Okishev all tested positive for anabolic androgenic steroids.
Davidenok has been a stagiaire with the WorldTour team since August.