Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport claims infamous pro cycling doping doctor Michele Ferrari was present at Astana’s training camp in fall 2013, according to VeloNews. The doctor was banned from cycling for life after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency’s investigation into Lance Armstrong; simply meeting with him can result in a suspension for an athlete.
Ferrari, for his part, denied the report as “the latest MEDIA BULLSH*T” on his personal site, according to VeloNews (Ferrari’s site was down as of Monday afternoon). Astana rider and 2014 Tour de France champ Vincenzo Nibali has denied ever meeting the doctor in the past and successfully sued a different paper for defamation in 2009 after it accused him of training with Ferrari.
The allegation comes at a difficult time for Astana. The team is being threatened with denial of its application for a 2015 racing license from the UCI, cycling’s governing body, after riders on both the development and top-tier teams tested positive for doping. The UCI is expected to issue a decision on Astana’s status this week.
A ban for the Astana team would be complicated for Nibali, who would be forced to find a new team on short notice. “Where would I go this late in the season?” VeloNews quoted him as saying. “It’s absurd. I’m not even going to think about it happening.”