Pozzato And Ferrari

Let’s play a word association. If say “Pippo Pozzato” and “Ferrari” then you might associate the flamboyant Italian cyclist with the Ferrari sports cars. It would be a good answer as Pozzato drives a red F430. But Italy’s second newspaper La Repubblica published an article alleging that Pozzato is associated with another type of Ferrari: Michele Ferrari, the infamous sports “doctor”.

Pozzato is a flamboyant character at times and seemed to return to form this year with some strong riding in the classics, one of the few riders able to follow Tom Boonen. But he’s seemed more grounded this year with a more humble team and a leadership role to encourage younger riders, as well as a brave tale of recovering from a cracked collarbone to racing in almost record time. Now some of this heroism is coming into question. Cyclingnews.com has the story in English. The takeaway here is that there’s a large investigation into the activities of sports doctor Michele Ferrari, a controversial figure to put it lightly. Pozzato’s lawyer is quoted as saying his client is “not under investigation”:

From a criminal point of view, at the moment there is no investigation involving Pozzato and the same can be said from the sporting point of view: we have no news of an investigation from either CONI or the Italian Cycling Federation.

At first glance that sounds a relief. Pozzato is not under any criminal investigation nor are the Italian sports authorities going after him. Phew.

Can he make a fast recovery again?

But there’s a worrying omission: there’s no denial that Pozzato has worked with Doctor Ferrari. For now we don’t know what happened but Pozzato has been called to a hearing by the Italian Olympic Committee tomorrow to explain things further so hopefully there will be an answer shortly. Note that Italian riders are forbidden from working with Ferrari, even signing up for a cookie-cutter internet training program is enough to exclude you from the Italian squad.

The Wire
In the wake of the storm over Lance Armstrong there was a story last week that alleged the American paid close to half a million dollars to Ferrari but as hard as it might be, forget Armstrong for now. Because the story in La Gazzetta Dello Sport said approximately 90 cyclists are involved in the investigation. 90 is a big number.

Now an investigation is one thing, after all we’ve often seen names cited by Italian investigating magistrates only for nothing to happen. It could be 90 names are on a list and one by one, the magistrate draws blanks and all the riders are cleared. It could be the other way, that 90 riders have been wire tapped and there is damming evidence. Certainly the Pozzato story is apparently based on wire tap evidence.

Bigger than Lance?
Michele Ferrari has never really gone away from the sport. He’s travelled far and wide to service his clients and amongst the 90 names there could be some surprises. The sport is probably able to point to the story with Lance Armstrong and say it’s a matter from the past. But my worry with the Ferrari investigation is that it could involve active riders on several teams and ultimately prove more damaging to the sport.

Decision time for Pozzato and his lawyer. They didn’t deny working with Ferrari over the weekend, now Pozzato will be asked in a formal hearing on Tuesday whether he has worked with the controversial coach. Beyond Pozzato, the spectre of wiretaps and bank records of many cyclists being traced could be devastating. But remember some Italian investigators can brief the press with bold claims but convictions rarely follow.

40 thoughts on “Pozzato And Ferrari”

  1. What about speed skaters and cross countru skiers? They surely must be on that list of 90 considering their surprising results at the Torino Winter Games of 2006.

  2. When Armstrong and Ferrari were first associated in the press in the early 2000’s it was mentioned that Lance had insisted on the exclusivity of his services. That would perhaps explain the large fee. Was this ever confirmed or is it rumors?

    • Ferrari is rumoured to demand 10% of winnings, so the $465,000 could have been his share of the $5m bonus Lance for for winning 5 Tours.

  3. I’ve come to an epiphany regarding cycling and doping. For so long I’ve been waiting and hoping the sport would get cleaned up and all the doping news would fade into the past. A new clean generation would lead us into a shiny, clean future! I realize now that I wasn’t being realistic. As long as fame and large amounts of money are involved, there’s always going to be cheaters. Always. And that’s true of all sports, even life in general. We’re human. We lie. We cheat.

    So, I’ve come to acceptance. Yes, there will be cheaters, and yes the authorities will catch some, but not all of them. I’m not saying I accept the cheaters, I want them punished, as they should be. I’m saying that I accept my beautiful sport with all its imperfections, and will continue to enjoy, follow and participate in it until the day I die. Now, I think I’ll go for a ride!

    • I agree with SilverSurfer.
      I don´t think it is right or fare to cheat, but, when you get in to pro sports you´ll have 10 or max 15 years to make your pro life worth. If you don´t, then you´ll have wasted preciosus year of your life getting out of there emptyhanded. With this tought in mind I understand those who dope to make their pro life wothr sometning, and in doing so I have to accept that doping exists!

      So, let´s ride and have fun.

    • This is very true, when pro cycling is supposed to be getting cleaner, it seems to be just as riddled with dopers as it ever was, with riders becoming more elusive in its means of evading positives. Known doping doctors are employed by pro-tour teams without any hint of secrecy, Geert Leinders at Sky for instance. It seems that the UCI propaganda train for the sport being clean is just highly facetious, with members of its own doping panel being expected to uphold omerta.

    • It’s not just for fame and profit, as one of the Italian authorities said recently, there are guys racing for a prize of a salami and have been caught doping! All we can do is encourage the authorities to catch and punish the cheats so the clean guys can feel something’s being done and they are not forced to cheat in order to compete. Hasn’t EVERYONE who’s been caught said, “everyone else was getting away with it, not just me”?

      • The horse has already left the stable, a long time ago, when the mullet was long and cool. I think it’s painfully obvious that the majority here, blogging, debating, prefer the fantasy, wish for it and hope for it. But maybe when the divil himself stats nipping at their asses they might settle down and think, really think. Maybe they ain’t seen what ‘they’ will do for the taste of victory in the unpaid ranks, but the will. Salami, albeit the prize, has nothing to do with it.

        “When I consider Life, ’tis all a cheat; Yet fool’d with hope men favour the deceit.

        If only there was an actual ‘fight’ in the ‘fight against doping’. But with the way the roll in and fly the flag why spoil the party?

  4. This could also be 3 riders from 3 different pro tour teams. The investigators put the three whole squads down on their hit list and you have 90 ‘suspects’. As with most Italian investigations there’s a lot of mouth and very little trousers at this stage.

  5. 90 riders is a lot. When the dust settles it seems likely that France will have technical “winners” of the TdF since Bernard Hinault’s last victory. Doping is a crime in France (thanks to communist sports minister M-G Buffet) unlike most other countries (the law was voted shortly after the Festina affair). Which gives credence that perhaps the only clean riders in the entire peloton since then were French (which explains why they placed so low and why paradoxically they maybe the last ones standing in the standings — pun intended!).

  6. Look,
    Since we are all aware that Ferrari is nothing more than someone with such low ethics that he is willing to assist any athlete in all matters of cheating, can someone explain how he is still practicing in Italy at all and not behind bars.

    Anyone who watches the sport and follows the sport has heard of Ferrari for years now, and yet…it seems he is still allowed to pedal his services. This is the equivalent of a someone running a “get-away” car taxi service for bank robbers, and instead of being behind bars, is allowed to still run the taxi service with the only punishment coming to those who have used his taxi service. This would never happen.

    • I get your opposition to doping in pro cycling, I really do. But equating someone giving medications to a fully knowledgeable patient looking to subvert the rules to someone robbing a bank is a bit strong.

      Love the sinner, hate the sin.

  7. It begs an obvious question – perhaps doping isn’t the ONLY service Ferrari provides. It may be possible that he actually knows what he is doing as a coach or sports doctor as well.

    • He does know a lot. But a rider determined to ride clean and adopt the best sports science can offer would probably find another coach, no? Plus remember any Italians found working with him risk being banned from the national squad. He’s toxic.

      • Well, the argument for not going with someone else is that it is possible that Ferrari is on the cutting edge of sports training theory, and perhaps his effectiveness as a doping doctor is linked to his knowledge as a cutting-edge coach (with one helping the other, and vice versa).

        The point is that I don’t think we should assume that just because someone is with Ferrari – or any other doctor who has been associated with doping – necessarily means that they ARE doping. It isn’t implausible to believe that their experience in working with past champion riders (for good and bad) gives them some unique expertise that may be preferred by some riders.

        The other alternative is that 90+ current riders are still doping, which puts an end to the thoughts of a clean peloton – doping hasn’t gone away, it has just gotten more sophisticated.

  8. I’m worried by this, not by Pippo, not by Michele or indeed Armstrong, but by this resurgence of interest – the new resurgence is certainly no bad thing, I wan’t every single dirty rider uncovered – my worry is that cycling is about to be unveiled as being as dirty now as it was in the 90’s and early 00’s.

    • I think where the sport will be truly hit hard is not if a bunch of riders on Astana or Katusha are found to have doped. That is a default position of many cycling fans. but what if this leads to charges against riders on Team Sky, Garmin or Orca-Greenedge.

      That is when the sport will truly enter a very precarious existence…as it would indicate that either the teams were lying outright, or even their own controls were ineffective at stopping this act.

    • and this is good! Why live a lie? What the hell? Take it down where it belongs? It’s not healthy like this either for the riders nor the fans! Worried about sponsors? So friggin what? Do you race? Well, race……we want to race, hammer each other and find out who is the animal out there. Let’s examine why we do this in the first place, fans, riders, mothers and dads. I know I can give respect without loosing my head. Imagine them at a bar in their underwear with a Mai Tai….in December………with 5 kg extra……and the chicken pox.

      how will 450 watts help them then?

      Can anyone find an anti doping quote by Pozzato……..
      Respect them but respect yourself too. Don’t be duped ad infinitum. The rhetoric is gone nuts here

      Back to the mullet…

      A voi!

  9. Purely because I like the way he rides I hope Pozzato hasn’t been stupid enough to do anything with Ferrari, but nothing really surprises me in cycling! I guess we’ll find out soon enough (assuming he tells the truth tomorrow morning).

    The thing that has really struck me in recent days is that once again doping investigations and revelations are being led by organisations outside of the UCI. With the exception of Contador almost all the big doping cases – the Festina affair, Operation Puerto and the continued pursuit of Valverde by CONI, the USADA case against armstrong, and now this latest bunch of Ferrari related claims – have been brought either by national sporting bodies (and not national cycling bodies…) or domestic legal agencies.

    Something is rotten in the city of Aigle.

  10. Can somebody please provide some context in terms of dates. When did Pozzato work with Ferrari – around the same sort of time as Lance or more recently?

  11. Pozzato is a perfect candidate for doping suspicion, actually. As was DiLuca and a number of other riders who had amazing results, and haven’t been able to back them up consistently.

    Doping is still out there, as it always will be. Lance, Tyler, JV, Andreau, and a bunch more guys you think/thought were clean are doping. Just you wait.
    This isn’t the amazing thing…..the amazing thing is that the soccer, football, tennis and other athletes aren’t being singled out like cyclists are. Money talks.

  12. For all those who think the Clemens defense is BS – http://www.cnn.com/2012/06/18/us/clemens-trial-verdict/index.html. Just because somebody is accused, does not mean they are guilty. The presumption of innocence has been forgotten in this country because we convict people the moment the allegations are made public. This is why the insidious practice of “leaking” allegations is so often used by so-called doping organizations – they don’t actually have to prove anything.

    • Presumption of innocence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt are appropriate constructs when the penalty is the government taking away a person’s liberty. There are other criteria and burdens of proof when the penalty is a private organization taking away a person’s opportunity to ride a bicycle for money.

  13. Great photo up top in the article, almost too perfect!

    Too bad we’ve got to destroy another decade of ‘great’ performances, although I’m the first to say you should reap what you sow. I believed in very few, but I still watched and enjoyed many of them….what does that make me/us?

  14. I like Pozzato, always have. I really hope he’s not a doper. Also, more and more I’m hearing alligations of sparticus being a doper, where is this coming from?

  15. Big Mikey also raises a good point – tennis, football, etc. are sports where the athletes dope to their gills, but the agencies don’t care about enforcing it.

  16. I know a lot of people have focused almost exclusively on Ferari’s involvement in the shadier side of the sport , many ignore just how much he knows about physiology and the effects of training upon the physiology. To say that Ferari really knows how the body works and responds to training is a bit like saying that Albert Einstein knows a little about physics. I think that is why a lot of the top athletes do consult with him (still) he can give an edge that other “experts” just can’t.. I have my opinions just how much of the shady part of cycling Ferari has been involved in but I do acknowledge he is a genuine expert in the field of sports and particularly aerobic sports.

    • I agree with this.

      I think everyone is fed up of doping and at this point, as far as the court of public opinion goes, people are too tired to sift through facts and separate reality from supposition – and as a result, the moment even the slightest tint of doping comes up, we tend to wave our hands and just go “ah, he’s guilty, they are all guilty”.

      Pozzato may be punished by the Italian federation for dealing with Ferrari if he was on a “banned” list, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a doper.

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