Filippo Simeoni, who was a witness for the prosecution in the case against the Italian
doctor Michele Ferrari, comes out well in the judge's summary of the case that was published in
January this year. The 33 year old rider had alleged that Doctor Ferrari had prescribed EPO to
him and an anabolic (Andriol) between 1996 and 1997. He had also given a series of names and
data which had been used in the investigation.
So was Simeoni a “liar” as some of the peloton had declared?
Not so, according to the judge, who commented, "None the arguments used by the defence of
Ferrari is likely to undermine the credibility of Simeoni, whose declarations, on the contrary,
are consolidated by a series of other elements collected during the lawsuit."
Filippo Simeoni at Stage 3 of the 2004 Tour de France. Photo by
On 1st October 2004, Doctor Ferrari had been given a one year suspended year jail sentence
and a fine of 900 euros.
On Monday January 18 2005, Filippo Simeoni, upon hearing the judge's reasoning,
told the Italian Sports daily Gazzetta dello Sport: “I feel vindicated. It shows that I had told
the truth about a phenomenon that everyone knew about, but that nobody denounced."
Doctor Ferrari’s highest profile client, 6-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, was
at no time mentioned in the trial. As he had always maintained, he severed links with Ferrari
immediately after the guilty verdict was announced, but also expressed his personal
However, Armstrong had allegedly called Simeoni an "absolute liar" in an interview with the
Le Monde newspaper and on Italian TV in 2003, a matter for which Simeoni is seeking €100,000
(£71,000) in damages which he claims he will give to charity.
Armstrong’s most visible support for his former trainer came in the 2004 Tour de France
when he chased after Simeoni in the break to Lons le Saunier, on Stage 18. In an
“unprecedented move” by the yellow jersey, Armstrong personally brought him back to the peloton.
(The US Postal Service Cycling Team site has a series of Graham Watson photos on
However, the Italian authorities asked the Italian National Drug Squad (NAS) to investigate
the incident in order to establish whether Armstrong's actions were in fact intimidating a
witness of the then-ongoing trial. Simeoni, Kazakh rider Dimitry Fofonov, Spain’s Juan
Antonio Flecha and Dutchman Marc Lotz, who were all part of the breakaway, and Paolo Bettini,
have already been interviewed by the authorities to give their version of the events.
At the same time the Italian Cycling Federation issued a statement in defence of Simeoni,
condemning Armstrong’s actions.
The question remains whether Armstrong will be questioned about his actions by the Italian
authorities should he return to Italy. The USA newspaper The Houston Chronicle reports that
Armstrong remains upbeat about the situation when they reported an interview
with PBS' Charlie Rose at the Texas Children's Hospital gala a month ago in
...he will remain in Texas through the end of February, then join up with his Discovery
Channel teammates for the eight-day Paris-Nice race March 6-13.
After Paris-Nice, he might participate in the one-day dash from Milan to San Remo on March
19, although he insists his disinclination has nothing to do with the murky legal inquiry that
was launched by the Italian authorities regarding his alleged "intimidation" of Filippo Simeoni
late in the 2004 Tour.
Simeoni served as a prosecution's witness in the drug trial of Italian sports physician Dr.
Michele Ferrari, with whom Armstrong has had a professional relationship. Armstrong accused
Simeoni of lying about Ferrari and Simeoni has sued Armstrong for libel. At any rate, when
Simeoni broke from the pack one afternoon, Armstrong reeled him in, not a typical tactic by
someone protecting the yellow jersey.
"How can you commit a crime by riding your bicycle?" Armstrong said. "It's crazy. If they
want to ask me some questions, I'll be happy to answer them. But the truth is (Milan-San Remo)
isn't my kind of race. Fifty guys in a flat 70-mile sprint. That's not my thing."
Meanwhile, Simeoni will not ride in the ProTour this year, since he will ride for the
professional team Naturino-Sapore di Mare. Now vindicated, he is still clearly bitter about the
events in general, and Armstrong and Cipollini (who had tried to stop him racing in the 2004
Tour) in particular.
"During the last six years, Armstrong has always supported Ferrari and maintained his
innocence, people will draw their own conclusions from that."
"Nothing has hurt me more than the eagerness of champions like Lance Armstrong or Mario
Cipollini who would have stopped me from cycling. If I am still here, it is because I love the
Sources: Le Monde, Gazzetta dello Sport, Houston Chronicle.
Links: Rebel with a Cause