MILAN (AFP) — Former Milan-San Remo champion Filippo Pozzato will serve a three-month doping ban, Italian anti-doping authorities said Tuesday. The ban means that Pozzato cannot compete for the Italian National Team in the future, as the Squadra Azzura excludes riders with doping-related sanctions on their records.
Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) investigators recently linked Pozzato to the controversial sports doctor Michele Ferrari, a notorious figure in cycling who has previously had links with many top cyclists including American Lance Armstrong. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency earlier this year handed Ferrari a lifetime ban for his involvement in a wide-reaching conspiracy. Ferrari is banned in Italian, where riders are prohibited from working with him.
A statement on the CONI website said: “In the disciplinary proceedings against Filippo Pozzato, the National Anti-Doping Tribunal… has handed down a three-month ban.”
It added that the ban was backdated “from 19 June 2012 (date of notification) and ends September 18, 2012… It also condemns the athlete to pay the costs of the proceedings, calculated at 2,000 euros, and a fine equal to 10,000 euros.”
Pozzato had previously admitted receiving training programs from Ferrari from 2005 to 2009, but has denied doping.
“Anyone who knows anything about this would agree it’s a farce,” said the 30-year-old Italian, a former Tour de France stage winner once considered one of the brightest hopes of his generation.
After being omitted from the Squadra Azzurra for the road worlds, Pozzato, when asked how much backing he had received, took a swipe at the attitude of his professional and national teams.
“Up to a certain point… but no one has the balls to tell it like it is,” he said. “They’re all afraid, waiting to see what happens and then in the end it’s the athletes who pay, and in this case unfairly.
“I have always stated that I went to see Ferrari; there was nothing to hide.”