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Doctor who treated Lance Armstrong could face criminal charges

October 11, 2012|By Houston Mitchell
  • Lance Armstrong waves to the crowd during one of his victories in the Tour de France.
Lance Armstrong waves to the crowd during one of his victories in the Tour… (Patrick Kovarik / AFP/Getty…)

Michele Ferrari, the doctor who is a central figure in the Lance Armstrong doping scandal, is the target of a criminal investigation in Italy.

“It's not finished yet, but it's coming to a close,” Padua prosecutor Benedetto Roberti told the Associated Press on Thursday.

A person with knowledge of the inquiry told the Associated Press that it is “already officially closed. They're just going over it again.” The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the case.

Roberti is believed to be investigating up to 70 people, including about 20 athletes, plus doctors, trainers and massage therapists.

“Armstrong is not under investigation. There are no Americans but there are several foreigners,” the person with knowledge of the inquiry said. “There are no athletes from other well-known sports.”

Doping is a crime in Italy, and Ferrari was already cleared on appeal in 2006 after an earlier conviction on criminal charges of distributing banned products to athletes. He remains barred for life by the Italian Cycling Federation under a 2002 ruling.

Ferrari was Armstrong's trainer until 2004, and Ferrari's name is mentioned frequently in the report issued Wednesday by the United States Anti-Doping Agency.

The report said Armstrong paid more than $1 million to a Swiss company controlled by the physician known as Health & Performance SA.

“The repeated efforts by Armstrong and his representatives to mischaracterize and minimize Armstrong's relationship with Ferrari are indicative of the true nature of that relationship,” the report states.

Roberti is hoping that the Armstrong case serves as an inspiration to instill more focus in the battle against doping.

“There needs to be an organization on WADA's [World Anti-Doping Agency] level that carries out investigations and exchanges and cross-checks information,” Roberti told the Associated Press. “This case really just worked because of the personal wills of individuals, who did this voluntarily. We need something that always works, and doesn't just depend on personal will.”

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