News for December 30, 1999

Italian doping - hidden files

The Italian newspaper, "La Repubblica" has published more information about the computer files of Professor Francesco Conconi. This comes after they published their list of 22 top cyclists that were patients of Professor Conconi, including such names as Ivan Gotti, Pavel Tonkov, Abraham Olano, Marco Pantani, Tony Rominger, Gianluca Bortolami and Giorgio Furlan. The public prosecutor, Pierguido Soprani has instigated action against Dr Michele Ferrari, also known as "Dr EPO", who was a pupil of Conconi.

Conconi's computer files, which were confiscated by prosecutor Soprani, allegedly show the hematocrit fluctuations of several of the professor's patients during the course of his "treatment". According to La Gazzetta dello Sport and La Repubblica, Tonkov's hematocrit went from 51.5% in June, 1996 to 40.9% just three months later. Ivan Gotti's went from 35.2% in January 1997 to 50.7% in June 1998. Between 1994 and 1995, Marco Pantani's level fluctuated by up to 20 percent - from 40.7 in March, 1994 to 58% in June and July 1994. During the Tour in 1995, his level was 56%, and after his accident in Milan-Turin in October 1995, it was measured at nearly 60. Finally, Claudio Chiappucci, who said that he had never worked with Conconi, was measured at 35% in January 1994 to 60(!) in June, where he came 5th in the Giro.

Although a high hematocrit does not of course indicate EPO use, large fluctuations such as these are not normal - 10% is considered a wide range for an individual. It remains to be seen how these files will be used in the case against Dr Ferrari and Professor Conconi.

Barsotelli speaks up

The Italian former pro rider Gianluigi Barsotelli, active in the early nineties mostly as a stage race gregario (helper), is prepared to speak up against his former colleagues: "Everybody knew what made the difference. I got hold of the EPO in Switzerland for 140,000 lire. The Conconi assistants took care of me," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. Barsotelli, who rode the Tour de Suisse three times, with a best results of 26th place, and the Giro d'Italia in 1992, will now be questioned by the anti drug procurate of the Italian Olympic Committee.

A number of sports directors, doctors and others involved will also be questioned by the procurate.