Filippo Simeoni is vowing to take his dispute with Lance Armstrong “to the bitter end” after testify
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Filippo Simeoni has vowed to “go to the bitter end” in his legal dispute with Lance Armstrong, having told Italian drugs police (NAS) in Rome on Tuesday that the six-time Tour de France champion “threatened” him during stage 18 of the Tour de France. According to a report by La Repubblica journalist Eugenio Capodacqua, Armstrong could soon be forced to defend himself against three separate accusations: that of intimidating a witness, of private violence against Simeoni and committing fraud in a sporting competition. The third of these allegations relates to the pressure Armstrong allegedly put on Simeoni to renounce his breakaway attempts in last Friday’s Tour stage to Lons Le Saunier. Investigators believe that Armstrong may have illicitly altered the result of an official sporting competition as a result. Simeoni claims to have told the NAS “everything” in a three-hour hearing on Tuesday. This included what, he alleges, was a clear threat from Armstrong. “He told me: ‘You were wrong to testify against Michele Ferrari; you were wrong to sue me [for defamation of character]. I have lots of money and lots of time and I will destroy you. I’ll make you give up racing’,” Simeoni said. “Testifying [against Ferrari],” Simeoni continued, “I am convinced that I did something important for the sport. My only sin was to have told the judge about my experience with Ferrari, talking about the doping products which I took for a period of time. I paid for that with a long doping ban.” Simeoni went on to reiterate his disappointment at the unsympathetic reactions of some Italian colleagues in the bunch, notably Andrea Peron, Daniele Nardello, Giuseppe Guerini and Filippo Pozzato. “But I got a lot of support, too, from [Paolo] Bettini and [Gilberto] Simoni in particular,” the Domina Vacanze rider added. Domina Vacanze team manager Vincenzo Santoni claimed that his electronic mailbox had been inundated with more than 300 messages of support – “more than when Mario Cipollini won Milan-San Remo.” Roman NAS chief, a certain Colonel Ortolani, called Armstrong’s actions “disgraceful. towards a citizen who fulfilled his duty as a witness. We are weighing up all of the possibilities that a crime has taken place. If that proves to be the case, we’ll involve the magistrates,” Ortolani said.