Cycling: Doctor's drug denial

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The Independent Online

Michele Ferrari, the Italian doctor accused of giving professional cyclists banned performance-enhancing drugs, has told a court here that he had prescribed only legal medicine for therapeutic purposes, to overcome the stresses of a tough sport. "Riding in a Tour of France is like working in a mine. It's a wearing job, which can cause damage to the health," Ferrari said at his trial.

"Some medicine can limit damage. In my case there is always a therapeutic explanation," he was quoted as saying by the Gazzetta dello Sport.

Also testifying was Marco Plebani, the director of a Padua laboratory, who said levels of red-blood cells of some cyclists "went beyond variability levels of a healthy person." According to trial files, riders told investigators that Ferrari had prescribed them the banned performance-enhancing substance EPO.