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Cycling | International Cycling

Leonardo Bertagnolli © Reuters

Armstrong doc 'showed me how to dope'

Former cycling pro Leonardo Bertagnolli claimed that a doctor accused of overseeing Lance Armstrong's doping programme also advised him how to use performance-enhancing drugs, according to a legal document.

The 34-year-old Italian, who quit the sport in June amid doping allegations, told prosecutors in Padua in 2011 that Michele Ferrari knew all the tricks to beat drug testers, from buying specialist fridges to using banned blood-boosting products.

His deposition, made amid ongoing investigations into Ferrari's activities, was one of more than 1 000 pages of supporting testimony to the 202-page "reasoned decision" from the US Anti-Doping Agency into why it banned Armstrong for life in August.

It was published in full on Friday in Italian daily the Gazzeta dello Sport and will do little to improve the reputation of Armstrong or the notorious sports doctor he once labelled a friend.

Bertagnolli said he first visited Ferrari in 2002 when "I had my first test with him at his home" but was refused the doctor's services.

He returned in 2006 following a thyroid problem and, with "the backing of Liquigas" he agreed on "yearly fees of 12 000 euros to be paid in instalments" to Ferrari. Liquigas have denied sanctioning his visits to Ferrari.

After suffering a heart problem, Bertagnolli attended a training camp in St Moritz in Switzerland at which Ferrari and other top cyclists were present.

Bertagnolli claims it was at the upmarket ski resort that Ferrari told him how to use the banned blood booster erythropoietin (EPO) successfully.

"He told me to do it in small doses, 1 000 units per day intravenously," he added. "I was taking Eprex (a brand name of EPO) and was advised to stop two to three days before the race."

Bertagnolli said that in 2003 he also started following the advice of endoctrinologist Filippo Manelli, whom Padua prosecutors are seeking to ban for life, but Ferrari "explained to me how to take EPO without testing positive".

With the International Cycling Union (UCI) already owning a detection test for EPO and looking towards other ways to deter and catch cheats, such as the blood passport programme and a system whereby riders' whereabouts must always be registered, Bertagnolli said he was told to change tack.

"After 2007 when it became apparent that the whereabouts system meant we could be caught using EPO, Ferrari advised me to use blood transfusions," added Bertagnolli.

"I'd never done it before so Ferrari explained it to me. He told me to take 350 to 500cc and to tie a knot in the bag and weigh it on a scale.

"Once it was filled he told me to store it in a fridge at a temperature of between two and four degrees Celsius.

"Ferrari told me which type of fridge to buy. He handed me a brochure and I soon found a dealer in the province of Ravenna.

"He even told me when to do the blood transfusion, to take the blood out before going up to altitude (to train) and then reinject it once back at sea level so as to better explain the eventual change in parameters like hematocrit (red blood cell levels) and the reticulocytes (young red blood cells)."

In his 18-page deposition, Bertagnolli said he was advised by Ukrainian former rider Yaroslav Popovych to throw all evidence of doping away because of ongoing investigations.

Bertagnolli retired in June, soon after winning the Italian road race championship and after being informed a suspension could be upcoming for anomalies in his blood passport.


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