Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Italy’s national anti-doping agency (NADO Italia) has announced sanctions against three people associated with Dr. Michele Ferrari, former physician to US cyclist Lance Armstrong. Stefano Ferrari, who allegedly managed the financial aspects of his father’s doping business, has been sanctioned with a four year ban for complicity.
Tommaso Sessa, an insurer that assisted Dr. Ferrari, has been sanctioned with a ten year ban for multiple offences. These include use or attempted use of a prohibited substance; possession of prohibited substances and use of prohibited methods; illegal trafficking or attempted illegal trafficking of prohibited substances; and a ‘multiple violations’ provision of Italy’s Norme Sportive Antidoping (NSA) that allows sanctions to be extended.
Antonio Didonè, understood to be an amateur cyclist client that assisted Dr. Ferrari, has also been sanctioned with a ten year ban for the same offences as Sessa. In addition, Didonè has been sanctioned for administration or attempted administration of a prohibited substance to an athlete.
In 2017, Italian prosecutors issued Dr. Ferrari with a suspended 18 month prison sentence for his part in assisting biathlete Daniel Taschler to dope. Dr. Ferrari was recommended by Taschler’s father, former International Biathlon Union (IBU) Vice President Gottlieb Taschler.
The US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) issued Dr. Ferrari with a lifetime ban on 10 July 2012. Despite the ban, a cycling training programme which he founded – available through a website run by his son – still appears operational. In December 2015, Padua prosecutors filed a 350-page report detailing allegations of Ferrari’s continued influence on professional cyclists. Prosecutors said that of the 35 professional cyclists involved in the investigation, most were still competing.
In December 2014, Gazetta Dello Sport reported that Ferrari had been photographed meeting with members of the Astana team outside of the team’s training camp hotel in November 2013. In February this year, a confidential Report from the Cycling Anti-Doping Foundation (CADF) was leaked to the media, suggesting that Astana team members Jakob Fuglsang and Alexey Lutsenko had met with Dr. Ferrari.
‘After careful review of the elements available, it [the CADF] has not submitted the report to the UCI [international cycling union] for the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the individuals or team in question’, read a statement from the CADF. A statement from Astana reiterated that no procedures had been opened against its team members.
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