The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has requested a three-minute suspension for both Michele Scarponi (Lampre-ISD) and Giovanni Visconti (Movistar) for using the services of banned Dr. Michele Ferrari.
In the Spring of 2011, police searched the homes of Scarponi and Visconti as part of the Padua-based investigation into Ferrari’s activities. CONI summoned both riders to explain their relationships with the controversial doctor.
The three minute ban is significantly shorter than the three month ban received by Filippo Pozzato who also admitted to training with Ferrari between 2005 and 2009. The usual ban would be from one to two years however CONI accidentally left Dr. Ferrari’s name off their own list of banned people.
Pozzato’s lawyers were prepared to exploit that over-sight and so CONI issued only a three month ban to avoid a public hearing that would expose their embarrassing display of incompetence.
Despite giving Scarponi the shortest ban in the history of pro cycling, CONI believes it sends a strong message. “The duration of the ban is not the point,” said CONI spokesman Aldo Gelato. “We have made our position clear from a sporting perspective. All infractions will be punished. Scarponi will pay his price.”
Scarponi had hoped for a short suspension so that it would not compromise his build-up for the Giro d’Italia. He was overjoyed by the announcement from CONI. “This worked out well for me. Really, I have to laugh. We don’t have any Travis Tygarts in Italy.”
CONI has reserved the right to increase the three minute suspension “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.”
“We may add a a few minutes to his suspension, perhaps a day or two,” said Gelato. “We are vigilant and the fight against doping must never stop. Scarponi knows we are watching him carefully and that we wield an iron fist.”
Scarponi is unsure of exactly when the three-minute ban goes into effect. “They did not provide me with a date so I’m just going to cut my training ride short today by three minutes. That should take care of things,” said Scarponi. Of course, I will respect the three minute ban because it is pointless anyway.”