Lance Armstrong’s former doctor to stand trial in doping crackdown
Lance Armstrong’s former physician Michele Ferrari has been ordered to stand trial for allegedly providing doping assistance to an Italian biathlete.
Daniel Taschler and his father, Gottlieb, a vice-president of the international federation were also indicted by a preliminary judge in Bolzano, Italy, on Wednesday. Taschler senior is accused of advising his son to use Ferrari for doping and contacting the doctor.
Banned for life by the Italian Cycling Federation in 2002, Ferrari recently appealed to a regional court to have the ban quashed, with a decision expected in the next few months.
He also received a life-ban from the United States Anti-Doping Agency after the 2012 case that led to Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles.
Doping is a crime in Italy and Ferrari was cleared on appeal in 2006 of criminal charges of distributing banned products to athletes.
Taschler Sr is a vice-president and member of the International Biathlon Union executive board. After the investigation came to light last year, he announced he would cease any activities within the IBU.
Daniel Taschler, 28, was a member of Italy’s B squad when the inquiry started, and he was suspended immediately. His doping allegedly took place in the 2010-11 season. The Taschlers and Ferrari all deny any wrongdoing.
Austrian cross-country skier Harald Wurm has been provisionally suspended amid a doping investigation, a week before the start of the World Cup season.
The Head Coach of the cross-country team, Gerald Heigl, has temporarily stepped down until Wurm’s case is completed but denies being involved.
Police began an investigation during August into alleged doping violations by Wurm and searched the premises of the two-time Olympian.
The federation has seen police files and thinks Wurm has a case to answer. The 31-year-old athlete has been excluded from all team training and competitions, with just over a week to go before the World Cup opener in Ruka, Finland, on 28-29 November.
Heigl’s name also appeared in the files, but the coach has claimed his innocence. He has decided to step down until his name has been cleared.
Wurm won the under-23 world title in 2006 and has four top-10 World Cup finishes. He competed in the sprint events at the 2006 and 2014 Olympics.
Wurm’s teammate, Johannes D¸rr, was banned for life last year by the federation after being dismissed from the Sochi Games 2014 for using the blood-doping agent EPO. If found guilty Wurm will be expelled from the federation.
The case could deal another blow to the damaged image of Austrian cross-country skiing, less than four years before Seefeld hosts the Nordic World Championships.
Former Olympic champion Christian Hoffmann retired in 2009 after being suspended for blood doping, while leading coach Walter Mayer was banned by the International Olympic Committee from Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010.
Mayer did turn up at the 2006 Olympics, leading to an Italian police raid on Austrian team lodgings, in which blood doping equipment and other substances were seized. No Austrians tested positive at the games, but several were later banned for life by the IOC.