|Born||17 August 1971|
|2001–2002||Cantina Tollo–Acqua e Sapone|
|2008–2009||Ceramica Flaminia-Bossini Docce|
|Regio Tour (2000)|
Italian National Road Race Championship (2008)
Filippo Simeoni (born August 17, 1971) is an Italian former racing cyclist and the 2008 Italian road race champion. Simeoni won two stages in the Vuelta a España in 2001 and 2003, and the 2008 Italian National Road Race Championship.
Simeoni is known for his maverick actions. During the stage win in the Vuelta he stopped just before the finish line and walked across the finish line with his bike in his hands. He did so as a tribute to the victims of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Later the Union Cycliste Internationale fined him for this.
Following his retirement, Simeoni started organising local races and set up a youth team. In early 2017, he was set to take up a position within the Italian Cycling Federation, but was forced to withdraw due to a rule preventing former riders who were implicated in doping offences from taking office. The federation was unable to take into account that Simeoni's sentence came in the light of a confession during the court cases against Michele Ferrari.
Feud with Lance Armstrong
More famous is Simeoni's argument with Lance Armstrong. Simeoni was treated by doctor Michele Ferrari, who was also Armstrong's doctor. Simeoni testified in court that he began doping in 1993, that Dr. Ferrari had prescribed him doping products such as EPO and Human Growth Hormone in 1996 and 1997, and that Ferrari also gave him instructions on how to use these products. In 2001 and 2002 Simeoni was suspended for several months for doping use. Armstrong reportedly called Simeoni a "liar" in an interview with the French newspaper Le Monde in July 2003. Simeoni lodged a charge of defamation against Armstrong and demanded €100,000. Simeoni announced that he would give any money awarded to him to charity.
On the 18th stage of the 2004 edition of the Tour de France, Simeoni gapped up to a breakaway of six riders that posed no threat to Armstrong's leading position. By then, Armstrong was leading the race by seven minutes, and was well on his way to his sixth consecutive Tour victory. Nevertheless, Armstrong broke from the peloton and chased Simeoni down, prompting Armstrong's rival T-Mobile Team to try to catch the breakaway. This would not only catch Simeoni, but end any realistic chance of the six riders in the original breakaway had of winning the stage. The six riders implored Armstrong to drop back to the peloton, but Armstrong would not go unless Simeoni went with him.
In full view of the television cameras, Armstrong put his hand on Simeoni's back and spoke to him. Simeoni subsequently told the United States Anti-Doping Agency that Armstrong told him in Italian:
|“||You made a mistake when you testified against Ferrari, and you made a mistake when you sued me. I have a lot of time and a lot of money, and I can destroy you.||”|
Armstrong then spoke to some of the other riders in the breakaway. It later emerged that Armstrong told them that he would not allow the breakaway to survive as long as Simeoni was part of it. At that point, the other riders badgered Simeoni until he dropped back to the peloton with Armstrong. When Simeoni dropped back, he was abused by other riders, including Andrea Peron, Filippo Pozzato and Giuseppe Guerini. In a later interview, he told of how Daniele Nardello also abused him, calling him "a disgrace". Afterwards, Armstrong made a "zip-the-lips" gesture but later said that Simeoni "did not deserve" to win a stage. He also claimed that he was "protecting the interests of the peloton," and that Simeoni was out to "destroy the sport that pays him."
The race ended two days later. By this time, the Tour winner (in this case, Armstrong) has long since secured his victory, and as such the final stage is a slow stage in which the celebration starts early. This year, however, Simeoni continuously attacked to take revenge for what Armstrong did three days before. Each time, Armstrong's team chased him down. Simeoni was again insulted and spat at by other riders after this.
Because Simeoni was a prosecution witness in legal proceedings against Ferrari at the time of Armstrong's move against him in the 2004 Tour, Italian authorities threatened to bring charges of witness intimidation against Armstrong. In March 2005 Armstrong was interviewed by the authorities, apparently without resolution. Armstrong had been indicted by Italian authorities in December 2005 and ordered to stand trial for defaming Simeoni on March 7, 2006. In April 2006, the defamation charges were dropped.
Like Christophe Bassons six years earlier, Simeoni's career suffered after his confrontation with Armstrong. He found it hard to catch on with a team. The final straw came in 2009, when his team was left out of the 2009 Giro d'Italia, even though he was the national champion. He retired at the end of the 2009 season.
In October 2012, USADA stripped Armstrong of all seven of his Tour titles and banned from all sports that follow the World Anti-Doping Code for life, effectively ending his competitive career. Simeoni was one of the key witnesses in USADA's case against Armstrong, and related how Armstrong threatened him during the 2004 Tour. In its "reasoned decision" announcing Armstrong's ban, USADA harshly criticized Armstrong's behavior during the incident, which it called a "sad moment in cycling." It found that Armstrong's decision to chase Simeoni down was "dangerous and impetuous," since it put him at serious risk of an accident. Moreover, it found that Armstrong had engaged in "attempted witness intimidation," which was in and of itself a violation of the World Anti-Doping Code.
Armstrong confessed to doping in January 2013. When asked about the confession, Simeoni said: "I acknowledge Armstrong's confession on television but he put me through such a humiliating experience and damaged me so much, in terms of sport, morale and finances that I don't know if I could ever forgive him."
Notes and references
- Italian Championships June 29 2008, CyclingNews, June 29, 2008
- Simeoni hands back jersey after Giro snub
- Farrand, Stephen (12 January 2017). "Simeoni stripped of role in Italian Federation due to doping ban". cyclingnews.com. Retrieved 12 January 2017.
- Simeoni testifies: "Dr Ferrari prescribed EPO", CyclingNews, February 13, 2002
- Macur, Juliet (2014). Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062277220.
- Stage 18 - July 23: Annemasse - Lons le Saunier, 166.5 km, CyclingNews, July 23, 2004
- Reed Albergotti; Vanessa O'Connell (2013). Wheelmen. Gotham Books. ISBN 978-1592408481.
- United States Anti Doping Agency. "REPORT ON PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE WORLD ANTI-DOPING CODE AND THE USADA PROTOCOL UNITED STATES ANTI-DOPING AGENCY, Claimant, v. LANCE ARMSTRONG, Respondent. REASONED DECISION OF THE UNITED STATES ANTI-DOPING AGENCY" (PDF). USADA. Retrieved 2012-10-28.
- Jeremy Whittle - Bad Blood
- Stage 20 - July 25: Montreau - Paris-Champs-Elysees, 163 km, CyclingNews, July 25, 2004
- Simeoni, Armstrong drop defamation actions Archived 2006-04-29 at the Wayback Machine., VeloNews, April 13, 2006
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