Cycling team Astana have been forced to defend one of their star riders, Jakob Fuglsang following allegations that he worked with a banned doctor.
Danish publication Politiken claimed that Fuglsang was being investigated for potential links to Michele Ferrari, who was banned for life by US Anti-Doping (USADA) in 2012 for his part in anti-doping violations perpetrated by Lance Armstrong's former team - US Postal.
Politiken's claims are based on intelligence gathered in a Cycling Anti-doping Foundation (CADF) investigation.
They say they've seen a 24-page document commissioned by CADF which was reportedly based on intelligence from whistleblowers.
34-year old Fuglsang had a relatively successful 2019, winning both the Critérium du Dauphiné and the Vuelta a Andalucía as well as the 16th stage of the Vuelta a España.
The Politiken reported claimed, "CADF intelligence indicates that Astana Pro Team cyclist Jakob Fuglsang is under Michele Ferrari's doping program, and that teammate Alexey Lutsenko was present during at least one meeting between the two in Nice/Monaco."
It's also claimed that Ferrari was present at the Volta a Catalunya in March of 2019 with Team Astana.
Astana responded to those Politiken claims, denying any of their team had been involved with Ferrari:
Astana Pro team has taken note of the press article by Danish and Norwegian media relating to the existence of an alleged confidential report by CADF suspecting some riders of the team to have been in contact with banned Dr Michele Ferrari.
Astana Pro Team is committed to the fight against doping in sport. The team requires from all its affiliated riders that they comply all time with all obligations under anti-doping regulations, including the prohibition to be associated with banned individuals or doctors. The team does not collaborate with any suspicious doctor, such as Dr Michele Ferrari. The riders are not authorized to consult any doctors external to the team in order to perform any activity, or to be prescribed any diet or treatment, related to their performance.
The licence of Astana Pro Team has been renewed for the year 2020, confirming the full compliance by the team with all its obligations, including in terms of fight against doping in cycling.
The team is in contact with the UCI and CADF in order to know more; it will collaborate with any inquiry that could be opened by CADF or the UCI.
However, for the time being, no procedure has been initiated against any rider affiliated to the team. The Astana Pro Team trusts that if the CADF had any evidence of wrongdoing by any rider of the team, disciplinary proceedings would have been immediately initiated in accordance with anti-doping regulations and the World Anti-doping Code.
Ferrari has also disputed the claims, issuing a detailed denial on his 52x12 website. The Italian describes the report as "the latest media hoax" against him.
His statement goes on to say:
- I have not had any relationship with athletes from Team Astana for over 10 years
- I haven't been to Monaco/Nice for at least 12 years
- I have never been on a scooter/motorbike in my entire life, let alone motorpacing a cyclist
- I haven't been to the Vuelta Catalunya in 2019. I haven't physically been present at a single race since 1994
- The "Report" is based on false reports from probable interested parties
- I have no base in Lugano, a place where I have never been
- I have never been convicted of doping.
This isn't the first time that Ferrari's name has been linked to Astana. La Gazzetta dello Sport claimed that Ferrari had met with Team Astana members in November 2013, months before Vincenzo Nibali won the 2014 Tour de France riding for Astana.
All parties involved denied the meeting and any wrongdoing.