Cycling

Lance doc linked to Giro wins

2012-10-19 16:12
Denis Menchov (AFP Photo)

Milan - Investigators probing Lance Armstrong's former sports doctor now have evidence linking former Giro d'Italia winners Michele Scarponi and Denis Menchov to Michele Ferrari, a report said on Friday.

Ferrari has already been handed a lifetime ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for his role in what it termed as the biggest doping programme in sporting history.

However the ongoing probe into an elaborate doping network run by Ferrari has reportedly allowed investigators to simultaneously discover a world of shady business dealings and money laundering spread across several European countries.

Gazzetta dello Sport on Thursday said the probe into the "Ferrari System" had opened a "Pandora's box" of illicit dealings worth millions involving cyclists, sports agents, and bank managers.

Friday's edition singled out Scarponi and Menchov, although it added that the investigation had turned up evidence on Ferrari and "many other riders", as well as athletes from other sports.

The report said both could riders now face bans for breaking rules on consulting the doctor, who is banned from operating in Italy. Italian Filippo Pozzato recently served a three-month ban for admitting to visiting the doctor.

According to the report Scarponi was heard, on September 27, 2010, discussing doping methods thanks to a bug placed on a campervan used by the Italian doctor to test and advise athletes near a motorway exit in northern Italy.

Scarponi, who had finished fourth overall in the Giro d'Italia that year, is alleged to have told Ferrari "I could have won the Giro", to which Ferrari allegedly replied: "If you had a bag of blood."

Scarponi, now with the Lampre team, won the Giro d'Italia a year later.

It added that "according to investigators" the 2009 Giro d'Italia champion Denis Menchov, who at the time rode for the Dutch team Rabobank, also "made use of Ferrari's advice".

The evidence on Menchov was collected, according to the report, from a phone call intercepted on September 19, 2010, during which Menchov is alleged to have told the cycling sports agent Raimondo Scimone: "I want all the riders working with me to be followed by Ferrari."

Menchov, who now rides with Team Katusha, has not won a Grand Tour since his Giro victory in 2009 but finished runner-up on the 2010 Tour de France.

Scimone is one of several people, along with Ferrari, his son Stefano, two bank managers from Lucerne and Neuchatel and a Swiss lawyer, Rocco Taminelli, being investigated by Padua magistrate Benedetto Roberti.

They face charges of conspiracy to smuggle, trade, administer and take performance-enhancing drugs, tax evasion and money laundering.

Gazzetta on Friday published a denial from Scimone.

"I have never had anything to do with the training of my riders or any others and I have never had any contact with the world of doping," he told the paper.

"They may be under investigation by Padua prosecutors but I refute any claims that I have violated anti-doping laws. The investigation has not revealed any elelments, even circumstantial, suggesting I have violated or facilitated violating the anti-doping rules."

The investigation, which is due to wrap up later this month, is also being run in conjunction with Italy's Finance Police (Guardia di Finanza).

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