Based on initial reports, Michele Scarponi appeared pleased with his three month micro-suspension for working with controversial doping doctor Michele Ferrari. The pointless off-season ban ends on December 31st and has zero effect on any of Scarponi’s race preparations.
However by Thursday morning Scarponi had become bitter and defiant. “Why should I even serve one day? I am insulted, my manhood questioned, my reputation sullied,” said Scarponi. “I have decided to retire because this sport is cruel and unjust.”
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) handed out the useless three month suspension because due to clerical errors on the Italian Cycling Federation website, Dr. Ferrari’s name was not on the banned list. To avoid public embarrassment in court, CONI settled for a three month ban that nobody would contest.
Only now the Lampre rider is doing just that. “The other Italian riders are already laughing at me,” said Scarponi. “They said if I knew how to game the system, I should have got off completely. I would rather quit cycling than be subjected to their jeers.”
Scarponi, who has already served an 18 month suspension back in 2007 related to the Operacion Puerto investigation, is determined to void the CONI ban. Lawyers for Scarponi are petitioning the Court of Arbitration in Sport and the Corte Suprema di Cassazione in Rome to overrule CONI’s inconsequential ban. “It is a matter of pride and respect for Michele,” said his legal counsel Aldo Snazzerilli. “And when he gets caught again, he doesn’t want this on his record.”
Scarponi is also not out of the hot water just yet. The Padua-based investigation led by public prosecutor Benedetto Roberti may yet announce more incriminating evidence.
If Scarponi fails to wipe out the pathetic three month ban, he has threatened to retire. “If you think I am trending then you a wrong. I will get off the bike forever. I don’t need cycling — there are plenty of other things I could do for large sums of money. I can’t name any right now but you can be sure, I have a few.”