Banned doctor asks to meet with official

ROME -- A banned Italian physician who was once Lance Armstrong's training adviser has asked for a meeting with a prosecutor who is investigating cheating in professional cycling.

A statement released by his lawyer Tuesday says that Dr. Michele Ferrari would like to meet with Padua prosecutor Benedetto Roberti "as soon as possible to clear up his position."

Ferrari was cleared on appeal in 2006 of criminal charges accusing him of distributing doping products to athletes, but he remains barred for life by the Italian Cycling Federation under a 2002 ruling.

In the statement, Ferrari called his 2002 ban "anachronistic and unjust."

Armstrong maintains that he severed professional ties with Ferrari in 2004, although a high-ranking Italian law enforcement official told The Associated Press earlier this month that Armstrong has met with Ferrari repeatedly in recent years, including before last year's Tour de France.

Armstrong has since acknowledged getting together with Ferrari nonprofessionally since severing their formal ties.

Italian authorities suspect Ferrari of continuing to work with 20 to 30 top level cyclists despite his ban, including Armstrong, and are actively pursuing that line of investigation. Roberti has ordered several raids this month across Italy involving cyclists believed to have ties to Ferrari. Italian riders who work with the doctor risk bans of three to six months.

The law enforcement official, who is not authorized to speak publicly because the inquiry is still under way, said that Armstrong met with Ferrari frequently over the past several years, usually in St. Moritz, Switzerland, or Monte Carlo, Monaco.

Ferrari had worked with the seven-time Tour winner for several years before their 2004 split.

Armstrong lawyer Mark Fabiani said earlier this month that Armstrong "has not had a professional relationship with Dr. Ferrari since 2004, but he remains friends with the doctor's family and sees them every once in a while. Lance last saw Dr. Ferrari about a year ago."