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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2003
Michele Ferrari, the Italian doctor formerly attached to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) who is alleged to have assisted an array of top athletes with detailed doping programs, took the stand in his own defense at his trial in Bologna, Italy on Wednesday.
Ferrari, the physician and trainer for four-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, said he had never prescribed any banned substances.
“I’ve never prescribed illicit substances because I know that doping, in other words the use of substances to improve performance, is a boomerang which will simply return to damage the athletes who use them,” he said.
Prosecutors opened an inquiry into Ferrari in 1998 after suspicion fell on some of the riders he was associated with, including double world record holder Tony Rominger. A number of big name riders were interviewed as part of that inquiry, including Italy’s current world champion Mario Cipollini and Spaniard Abraham Olano.
Their testimonies, among others from the peloton, led to Ferrari being charged.
On the eve of the publication a detailed investigative piece in The Sunday Times of London, Armstrong told the Italian sports journal Gazzetta Dello Sport that he had sought the help of Ferrari with an eye on Briton Chris Boardman’s world hour record.
The on-again-off-again Ferrari hearing will continue on May 14.Copyright AFP2003