Michele Scarponi has been provisionally suspended by his Lampre-ISD team as a result of his admission of having trained with the banned doctor Michele Ferrari in late 2010, prior to joining the team. The 33-year-old formally admitted two meetings with Ferrari in September 2010 when he presented himself voluntarily yesterday at the Rome office of the anti-doping prosecutor at the Italian Olympic Committee, CONI.
Scarponi’s acknowledgement last month that he had trained under Ferrari’s supervision on two occasions, followed publication in the Gazzetta dello Sport of details of a face-to-face conversation between the two in the physician’s motor home, which had been bugged by law enforcement officials working on the Padua enquiry.
Ferrari has been banned from working with cyclists within Italy since 2002, and earlier this year was also handed a worldwide ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency as part of its investigation into Lance Armstrong and the US Postal Service team.
According to the Gazzetta dello Sport, Scarponi, awarded the overall victory in the 2011 Giro d’Italia after Alberto Contador was stripped of that title, could face a ban of three months, similar to that handed down earlier this year to Filippo Pozzato, who had also admitted consulting Ferrari.
Lampre says that its suspension of the rider, who hails from the Marche region, are in line with the team’s internal procedures, adding that the period in question was before he joined it.
Scarponi himself - who previously served a ban of 18 months for his role in Operacion Puerto - says that the occasions on which he trained with Ferrari fell between him finishing racing with his previous team, Androni-Giocattoli, at the end of the 2010 season and ahead of his signing a contract to join Lampre for 2011, after which his training fell under the supervision of the Mapei Centre.
Should Scarponi receive a ban, the consequences for his team could be serious. Last week, the Italian outfit, which will race next season as Lampre-Merida, had its WorldTour registration for 2013 confirmed by the UCI.
However, the governing body underlined that “any significant change in the information used to establish the evaluation of the teams whose registration has been announced above will automatically be referred to the Licence Commission with the possible consequence of the withdrawal of the UCI WorldTour licence, the withdrawal of the registration or the suspension of the team depending on the seriousness of the case.”
The sporting value of teams that forms part of the UCI’s criteria for determining WorldTour status is based in part on results of the team’s riders during the past two seasons. The calculation isn’t the same as World Ranking points, but Scarponi’s Giro victory in particular is likely to be a significant part of the team’s total.
The UCI has separately said today that it is closely monitoring developments in the Padua investigation, which is heading towards its conclusion.
While that statement was made with specific reference to the allegations regarding Astana’s Alexandre Vinokourov’s victory at Liege-Bastogne-Liege in 2010 – the UCI says it has opened a formal investigation – it added that it “is committed to examining all issues arising from the Padua investigation in a constructive and transparent manner in order to safeguard the integrity of the sport of cycling.”
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.