- - Vincenzo Nibali: Links to Dr. Michele Ferrari Surface

Vincenzo Nibali: Links to Dr. Michele Ferrari Surface

As Vincenzo Nibali’s star continues to shine bright during this year’s Tour de France, questions about his link to the controversial Dr. Michele Ferrari have surfaced once more. 

Indeed, the Italian rider no sooner finished Saturday’s stage, when he was confronted by the press about his connection to the defrocked trainer.  

No,” the Italian race leader said, “I never met him personally.”

For many, Ferrari’s name is synonymous with doping in the sport of cycling; particularly for his dealings with the disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong. 

In the past, Nibali has denied using performance enhancing drugs of any sort. And, despite Team Astana being one of the first high profile teams to join the Movement for a Credible Cycling (MPCC), questions about Nibali’s involvement with Ferrari back in 2009 continue to surface.  

The Italian newspaper, La Repubblica,  printed an article back in August of that year, wherein sports director Ivan Fanini, went on record saying that he had proof that Nibali and former Liquigas team-mate Franco Pellizotti trained with Ferrari. Furthermore, the article went on to say, that both riders rode in black apparel rather than team issued clothing, as to not be seen while training in St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Livigno, Italy, when being accompanied by Ferrari on his motorbike. 

Nibali responded to the accusations yesterday by saying:

“They said that there were photographs where he was following me with a stopwatch in hand. We are talking about a few years ago, when Ivano Fanini said that to an Italian journalist .” 

“I sued, it went ahead for some time, but towards the end, they asked me to pull it because I was right, there was nothing. There were claims made, the photographs didn’t exist, nothing to give.”

Nibali’s lawsuit against La Repubblica, Capodacqua and Fanini was in fact dropped in 2011, after Fanini agreed to pay a fine of €4000, for which he gave to charity. 

However, Pellizotti served a two-year ban, and was stripped of his polka-dot jersey from the 2009 Tour for a biological passport violation. Experts showed that his blood and urine values were abnormal, and therefore consistent with "doping".

However, despite this cloud of pallor, Nibali’s performance in the Grand Tour events, has continued to place him amongst the favorites of the peloton. 

Nibali won the 2010 Vuelta a España and the 2013 Giro d’Italia, and  placed third behind Sky’s Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in the 2012 Tour. And, with a 4:37 lead over his nearest rival, the Italian rider is poised to win this year’s Tour de France.

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