Friday, December 12, 2014

Michele Ferrari: No Credibility

Why are we still hearing and reading the name of Dr. Michele Ferrari? And how on Earth does this guy still get to call himself "Doctor"?

"I feel obliged to once again deny the latest MEDIA
BULL$#!T with regards to my presence at the Astana team
training camp in Montecatini."
 Yeah - Whatever.
Ferrari's name is once again coming up in the latest news from bicycle racing, this time in association with a new Italian doping investigation that involves several European racers and teams -- including the Astana team (big surprise) which unfortunately is the team of the 2014 Tour de France Champion Vincenzo Nibali. Thankfully, Nibali is not among those individuals being investigated, but so far he's downplaying the reports of his team's association with Ferrari, and his statements to the press so far are that he's sticking with the team. To be honest, I don't know how much freedom a rider has to search elsewhere when he's under contract with another team -- but if he's smart, he'll put as much distance as possible between himself and anyone who's ever done so much as greet Ferrari with a casual "hello."

That teams and individuals are still meeting with Ferrari as recently as this past year (despite his worldwide lifetime ban from sports) really shouldn't come as a surprise  -- even though the UCI would like us to believe that doping somehow began and ended with Lance Armstrong. There must still be plenty out there who believe the rewards are worth the risks. But associating with Ferrari? The guy has no business dealing with athletes, and should be treated as nothing less than toxic and deadly. He's Ebola.

(and don't misunderstand me -- I do not mean he's like a patient with Ebola. Those poor souls deserve all the care and compassion possible. NO. I mean, he's the actual disease. He's the VIRUS, and should be treated as such).

For his part, Ferrari denies the claims, referring to them as "media bull$#!t" but the fact is that this guy has absolutely no credibility. Widely known for his work with Lance Armstrong, Ferrari continued to deny (actually, he still denies) that he did anything to help Armstrong dope. Even after Armstrong finally admitted doping, he continued to suggest that Armstrong's racing results came from good ol' fashioned training and hard work.

More credibility issues.
As for the Astana team, their history is checkered going all the way back to the team's origins. The team was founded by some Kazakhstan businessmen to be the vehicle for noted Kazakh racer Alexandre Vinokourov. They took over the sponsorship of what had previously been the Liberty Seguros team from Spain, which was implicated in the Operation Puerto doping investigation in 2006. In the 2007 Tour de France, Vinokourov won a couple of stages, but then it was shown that he'd been transfusing someone else's blood. The result was that he and the entire team were ejected from the race. In 2008, team management was taken over by Johan Bruyneel, who has credibility issues himself, considering his associations with Ferrari and Armstrong. Bruyneel claimed to have cleaned things up at Astana, but the team was banned from the '08 Tour de France nevertheless. In 2010, Alberto Contador, riding with Astana, won the TdF, but was later stripped of his title when it was revealed that he'd tested positive for Clenbuterol.

Just after the conclusion of the 2014 TdF, in which Vincenzo Nibali seemed to dominate the competition, I wrote: "It's a shame that, in the 'Post Armstrong' era, people will question (are questioning) if Nibali raced clean. . . We've all seen the fairy tales, and we've seen how too many of them turned out. I want to believe it was a clean victory, but part of me waits for the other shoe to drop." Is the Padua investigation, in which it is alleged that Ferrari was working with as many as 17 members of the Astana team, the other shoe dropping?

In the latest developments, the UCI has decided to grant the Astana team its WorldTour license for 2015, though UCI President Brian Cookson said that pending the results of the Padua investigation, "they are very much under probation and scrutiny, and they won't be given another chance." How many chances have there been already? Way to get tough.

Until men like Michele Ferrari and the people who associate with him are truly treated like the viruses they are, professional bicycle racing is always going to have serious credibility problems.

Sorry to end the week on a bitter note.

No comments:

Post a Comment