Dr Michele Ferrari, a one-time cadence and training advisor to Lance Armstrong, has been given a 12-month suspended jail sentence for malpractice by an Italian court. He is to appeal the sentence.

Ferrari cleared of dope distribution charges but gets 12 months for malpractice

Ferrari, the former doctor of cycling team Refin, was acquitted of distributing doping products which could endanger health, reports Channel News of Asia.

Ferrari had been on trial – on and off – since 2001.

Filippo Simeoni, one of Ferrari’s main accusers and famous for his spat with Lance Armstrong in this year’s Tour de France, said:

"I regret Ferrari’s sentence but it shows my statements were justified and that there is justice in this world. Everyone knew what was going on but no one said anything. But I spoke out and I am happy that my comments finally bore fruit, especially after the attacks from Armstrong and other cyclists."

David Walsh, and his book ‘L.A. Confidentiel’, majored on Arsmtrong’s link with Ferrari. Many commentators believe the publication of the book so angered Armstrong that it helped his motivation in this year’s race.

L.A. Confidentiel has so far only been published in France. BikeBiz.com has read an English-translation of the book and is not surprised at conjecture that five British publishers have so far turned down the offer to publish it in the UK.

The accusations contained in the book are, on the surface, persuasive but this is a relatively easy trick to pull off if none of the arguments have counter-points. Best-selling books such as The Bible Code show that if you pile up enough ‘proof’, many people will believe what’s written.

Walshbelieves Armstrong’s training consultant Dr Michele Ferrari is an EPO-specialist and nothing will dissuade him from this belief. In L.A. Confidentiel, Walsh continued to peddle the line that Ferrari once said ‘EPO is no more dangerous than orange juice’.

In an earlier article on this subject, BikeBiz.com went back to the original source for this often misquoted quote. See below.

Walsh and others, including Greg Lemond, question why Lance Armstrong is so enamoured of the Italian doctor. What they tend not to discuss is the fact that Armstrong is now a six times Tour de France winner because of his hill-climbing prowess and his high cadence.

And what does Dr. Ferrari specialise in? Hill climbing and increasing a cyclist’s cadence.

In a written statement, Lance Armstrong said:

"I was disappointed to learn of the Italian court’s judgment against Dr. Michele Ferrari.

"Dr. Ferrari has been a longtime friend and trusted adviser to me and the USPS team, during which time he never suggested, prescribed or provided me with any performance-enhancing drugs. I was pleased to hear that Dr. Ferrari was acquitted of the charge of providing illegal drugs to athletes. I am not surprised by that verdict.

"However, I have always said that I have zero tolerance for anyone convicted of using or facilitating the use of performance-enhancing drugs. As a result of today’s developments, the USPS team and I have suspended our professional affiliation with Dr. Ferrari as we await the release of the full verdict, which will contain Judge Maurizio Passerini’s reasoning.

"In the meantime, I personally wish the very best for Dr. Ferrari and his family during this difficult time."


In an interview earlier this year with with cyclingnews.com, Ferrari put his side of the ‘EPO/orange juice story:

"I said what I said as a specific response to a specific question. It’s a long story that certain elements in the Italian media took this quote [from French newspaper l’Equipe] out of context and exaggerated it. They asked me about EPO, if EPO in and of itself was dangerous and I responded that ‘EPO itself has pharmacological indications that are quite precise and of itself, it’s not a dangerous drug. It’s the abuse that’s dangerous. EPO is not dangerous, it’s the abuse that is. It’s also dangerous to drink 10 liters of orange juice.’"

Ferrari told cyclingnews.com he was not in favour of chemical solutions to riders’ problems.

"I’ve always sought to fight against the use of pharmacological products in general in cycling – let’s not even talk about doping – and have sought to propose to professional riders an alternative to use of drugs, legal or otherwise. You can’t just say ‘no’, you have to explain why the alternative is better; yes it may take longer and may be harder, but the results are certainly going to be better."

And, in court, Ferrari had defended himself against pro-doping claims:

"The use of drugs to improve sporting performance is a boomerang for the athlete, because, beside the negative effect on the athlete’s health, it will cause an athlete to think that there are [drugs] that can help them perform even better. I will add that 90 percent of the drugs on the official list of substances considered as doping products don’t work to improve performance, but actually make it worse. Personally, I have always fought these [doping] practices inside the world of [sports] science. For that reason, I categorically deny that I had suggested or prescribed doping products to athletes who came to me for sports preparation."

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