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Scarponi banned for three months for visiting Ferrari

By Julien Pretot

LONDON (Reuters) - Last year's Giro d'Italia winner Michele Scarponi has been handed a three-month retroactive ban for visiting banned sports doctor Michele Ferrari, his team said on Wednesday.

Lampre team media officer Andrea Appiani told Reuters in a text message that Scarponi's ban started on October 1, meaning that the Italian will be allowed to resume competition at the start of the 2013 season.

Scarponi had been suspended by Lampre on November 6 for an issue that referred "to a period when (he) did not ride for Lampre".

He admitted for the first time that he had visited Ferrari on October 25 after the Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport published a report containing extracts from a Padua investigation into the doctor.

Ferrari, who has denied any wrongdoing, was banned for life by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency which said he had masterminded Lance Armstrong's doping program during the years the American dominated the Tour de France.

Armstrong was also banned for life and stripped of his seven Tour titles.

Scarponi has already served an 18-month ban for his involvement in the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by John Mehaffey)

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