USADA files lifetime ban for three former Postal Service staffers

By Cyclingnews.com | Tuesday, July 10, 2012 4.47pm

This story was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency delivered lifetime bans Tuesday to three former members of Lance Armstrong's Tour de France winning team for "anti-doping rule violations in the United States Postal Service (USPS) Cycling Team Doping Conspiracy."

Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, Dr. Michele Ferrari and Jose “Pepe” Martí, who worked with the team as doctors and trainers, all received lifetime bans from cycling.

The other three respondents in the case, Lance Armstrong, Johan Bruyneel and Dr. Pedro Celaya, have either asked for arbitration to go forward or have been given five-day extensions. Armstrong's attorneys yesterday filed a federal lawsuit against USADA, calling the investigation "unconstitutional", but it was dismissed by a Texas judge for containing too much extraneous information.

USADA CEO Travis Tygart confirmed to Cyclingnews that Ferrari, Del Moral and Marti accepted their lifetime bans. "The respondents chose not to waste resources by moving forward with the arbitration process, which would only reveal what they already know to be the truth of their doping activity.

"The objective of USADA's investigation into the sport of cycling is to protect the rights of clean athletes by ridding sport of those in the system, whether coach, doctor, trainer, or manager who abuses their influence by encouraging, coercing or assisting athletes in cheating through the use of dangerous performance-enhancing drugs," said Tygart.

"When USADA has information about the existence of a sophisticated, far-reaching doping conspiracy, it is our duty under the established rules to conduct a thorough, fair investigation to uncover the truth. Permanently banning these individuals from sport is a powerful statement that protects the current and next generation of athletes from their influence, and preserves the integrity of future competition."

Dr. Michele Ferrari, already banned for life in Italy for alleged doping offenses, consulted with the US Postal Service team and Discovery Channel teams during Armstrong's seven-year Tour de France reign, USADA stated. The Italian was accused in this case of developing a mixture of testosterone and olive oil which was administered orally to help with recovery. He is also said to have advised riders on the use of EPO, of which he once famously said "is not dangerous, only its abuse. It's as dangerous as drinking ten litres of orange juice".

Ferrari is said to have helped riders to inject the drug intravenously to avoid having the EPO be detected in the urine test, as well as having assisted in blood doping. He provided riders with detailed training plans with codes indicating when EPO should be used and at what dosage.

Armstrong, as recently as last autumn, denied any involvement with Ferrari, stating that the Italian was a friend only - despite an international investigation that reportedly found otherwise.

Dr. Luis Garcia del Moral, of Valencia, Spain, was the team physician for the USPS Cycling Team from 1999 through 2003. He was accused of helping cyclists including the USPS team members to carry out performance enhancing doping including blood transfusions as well as saline infusions to prevent the doping from being detected by blood value checks. Del Moral was also accused of administering EPO, testosterone, corticosteroids and human growth hormone, all of which are banned by the WADA code.

Del Moral was famously videotaped disposing of the USPS team's medical waste at the 2000 Tour de France, which journalists searched, finding packages of Actovegin, an extract of calf's blood. The incident was investigated by the French authorities, but was eventually closed without incident.

In 2011, a visit with Del Moral led Australian Trent Lowe to be sacked from the Garmin team along with his then-director Matt White, although Lowe insisted the visit was for a normal UCI health check.

Marti served as a trainer for the USPS and Discovery Channel teams from 1999-2007, and followed Bruyneel to the Astana Cycling Team. He was given a lifetime ban for delivering doping products "including EPO, testosterone, human growth hormone (hGH) and cortisone from Valencia, Spain to locations where the riders were living in Europe including Nice, France and Girona, Spain and at training camps and cycling races", and assisting with the administration of "EPO, saline infusions for avoiding detection by drug testing and in transfusing blood to riders".

USADA cited "aggravating circumstances including involvement in multiple anti-doping rule violations as well as trafficking, administration and/or attempted administration of a prohibited substance or method" to justify the lifetime bans.

The bans will preclude all three men from having any involvement in sports which are signatories to the WADA code.

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