This article was originally published on Cyclingnews.com.
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has requested three-month suspensions for both Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) for training under the guidance of Dr. Michele Ferrari.
Scarponi and Visconti had their homes searched by police in the spring of 2011 as part of the Padua-based investigation into Ferrari’s activities, and both men were summoned to CONI hearings this year to explain their relationships with the controversial doctor.
In a statement on Tuesday, CONI said that it was requesting three-month bans for both Scarponi and Visconti under article 3.2 of its anti-doping rules, which concerns professional consultation with suspended persons.
Michele Ferrari was banned by the Italian Cycling Federation over a decade ago on the back of rider testimony relating to his activities and in February 2002, the body announced that it would hand down suspensions of up to six months to riders who were found to have consulted with him.
Ferrari is currently the focus of the Padua-based doping and money-laundering investigation and has also been charged with administering doping products to Lance Armstrong and some of his US Postal teammates by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
CONI noted that it would continue to monitor closely the findings emanating from the Padua investigation. Thus, while the body currently recommends three-month bans for Scarponi and Visconti, it reserves the right to revisit the case “if, at the conclusion of the Padua penal investigation, elements of responsibility concerning possible violations of anti-doping rules emerge that are different to those of the current proceedings.”
Scarponi himself decided to meet with the CONI Procura in early November rather than await the end of the Padua investigation in a bid to ensure that he would serve any ban over the winter rather than during next season. "It's very probable that the Procura will recommend that I face disciplinary action because I accepted the charges and have asked that my position is clarified as soon as possible in the interests of my team," Scarponi said after the hearing in Rome.
Scarponi claims that he only met with Ferrari for two tests at the end of the 2010 season and ceased the collaboration immediately afterwards on signing for Lampre. The Italian already has already served an 18-month suspension after he confessed to blood doping under the supervision of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes but he insisted that he was not aware that it was forbidden to work with Ferrari.
Earlier in 2012, Filippo Pozzato was handed a three-month ban and fined €10,000 after he confessed to being trained by Ferrari between 2005 and 2009. Like Scarponi, Pozzato – who will ride for Lampre in 2013 – claimed that he was not aware that it was forbidden to be trained by Ferrari.
Update: Visconti has released a statement posted on his personal website, that acknowledges the request from CONI while asserting he has "done nothing wrong." The Italian Cycling Federation had previously announced they would hand up to six-month bans to any Italian athletes found to have engaged the services of Ferrari.
"I would like here to reiterate that we are talking about conversations with a trainer and emphasising that the only evidence of such contacts were my spontaneous declarations, the result of good faith and conviction of having done nothing wrong," wrote Visconti on giovannivisconti.it.