Italian Paralympic cyclist at centre of doping row after link to Armstrong doctor

Wednesday, 28 November 2012
By Duncan Mackay

Fabrizio Macchi on bikeNovember 28 - Fabrizio Macchi, who has been cleared of doping having been dropped from Italy's team for the London 2012 Paralympics, could still face a ban after the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) launched an appeal against the decision.

The 32-year-old cyclist was axed from the team for London by the Italian Paralympic Committee (CIP) on the eve of the Games after a court recommended that he be given an eight-month ban because of his alleged close links to Michele Ferrari. 

Ferrari, an Italian doctor, is at the centre of the doping scandal involving seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

Michele FerrariItalian doctor Michele Ferrari has been banned for life because of his close links to Lance Armstrong

He was given a lifetime ban in August by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after it found evidence of payments from Armstrong to Ferrari totalling more than $1 million (£600,000/€750,000).

He has been accused of conspiracy to smuggle, trade, administer and take performance-enhancing drugs, as well as tax evasion and money-laundering.

Prosecutor Ettore Torri had recommended an eight-month ban for Macchi before he was cleared last month after the court accepted that he neither paid Ferrari nor received training programmes from the doctor.

Italy's anti-doping organisation then lifted Macchi's ban only for CONI, which has overall control of sport in Italy, to reveal that it would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne.

Macchi, who won a bronze medal at Athens 2004 in the LC3 pursuit, maintains that his only contact with Ferrari was to help with a university thesis on disabled athletes by the physician's daughter in 2007, when he was not licensed by the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI).

Among those who have offered their support to Macchi, who had his left leg amputated when he was 16, is former Formula One motor racing driver Alex Zanardi.

Fabrizio Macchi accreditationFabrizio Macchi was dropped so late from Italy's team for London 2012 that he already had his accreditation tag

Zanardi, who lost both legs in a crash 11 years ago, won two gold medals at London 2012 in handbiking and afterwards brought up the case of Macchi.

"My thoughts turn to my friend Fabrizio, who should be here with us and we do not understand why he is not," he said.

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