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Volodymyr Bileka speaks - In English

Overleaf is a translation of Volodymyr Bileka's statement as found in The Lance Files. I think it's reasonably accurate, but don't bet any of your own money on it.

I've known Yaroslav Popovych since I was a child, since we were born and grew up in the same village in Ukraine. We began our cycling careers together right back to the junior and student levels, first in Ukrainian teams, then in the 1999-2000 season we went up to the amateur U23s with the Italian team Gravellona Toce which was based in the town of that name. Upon arrival in Italy my and Popovych's paths separated since he joined the Ukraine National track team which actually trained in Italia, in Covo in Lombardia. However with me in the Gravellona Toce team there were other Ukrainian lads that arrived around that time, four of us to be precise. I rode in that team for a year and a half, and then I moved to Societa Vellutex, where Popovych had already been for a year. Vellutex was directed by Olivano Locatelli and had two team houses, one at Carate Brianza and one at Olmi di Quarrata, and we continually moved between these two places according to where there were races. I stayed with Popovych at Vellutex up to 2003 when we both turned professional with Lambowcredit Colnago.

We both stayed with that team for three years then moved together in 2005 to the US team Discovery Channel. Our procuratore Fabio Perego took care of our engagement. I would like to say that as far as I am concerned I never had anything to do with doping before I joined Colnago. I would like to say that since it was my destiny to always be bound to what Popovych was worth, since the teams that employed me did so thaks to him and on his request, I started to feel uncomfortable in that I wanted to show that I too could prove my worth given that up to the point we left Ukraine I had always been the stronger of the two of us, and I should not thus be thought of just as Popovych's friend. Over time this feeling grew worse in me, because during the first two team camps, in December 2005 in Austin Texas, where team captain Lance Armestrong lived, and in January, once more in the United States, but this time in California, at Solvank if I recall rightly, I saw that the team was riding very strongly. I therefore decided at that time to ask Popovych how I could manage to ride equally strongly and if he knew anyone who could help me. I would like to say that at this time I already suspected that Popovych was making use of the services of Michele Ferrari, even if I had no proof of it, since we had an agreement between ourselves to not ask questions, but to wait until the matters came to be spoken of at a time of the other's choosing. Finally, after several tries, he persuaded himself to speak to me about Ferrari, saying that the two of them had already discussed me. He told me that the doctor was hesitant to take me into his care, since he was not convinced of my value to him, either sportingly or financially since he had been told by Yaroslav how much my contract was worth, and at the time I earned only 50,000 dollars a year. He had however agreed to assess me with a test and to then decide. The first time he made me go to his house in Ferrara, I don't remember the address, Popovych told me how to get there. I remember that it was a villa just outside the town, surrounded by farmland, and that if you drove past quickly you could easily miss it. As far as I remember this happened I the interval between the two team camps I previously spoke about, probably towards the end of December 2005. He tested me in a garage in the basement, where he had fitted out a small gymnasium with a fitting to attach a bicycle which was itself attached to a roller which took measurements more or less like a SRM. On that occasion he also weighed me and measured my body fat. To tell the truth he had a really strange fixation with fat, and the first time he saw me he looked at me a little strangely. Perhaps I was a bit too fat. I remember that he took notes on a piece of card in his hand. We spoke a bit about my characteristics as a rider, and he took care to learn about my way of life in general, where I lived etc. In particular he asked me to confirm how much I earned. Finally he told me that he would have to study the results of the tests and that he would let me know via Popovych. The first time I didn't give him money. The first time he didn't give me a phone number to contact him.

During the second camp, in California, I asked Popovych if he had any news from Ferrari but he answered no. Meanwhile during that second camp we were given our racing calendar for the season. After returning to Italy Popovych told me that I had to go back to Ferrari to retake the test, adding that it was probable that being recalled was a good sign that he had accepted me. He also told me that I should take my racing programme with me. After a short time, about a month from the first appointment, I thus returned to Ferrara. I don't remember if I went alone or with Popovych. The doctor invited me once more inside the very house in which he lived, repeated the test on me, measuring my weight and body fat to see if I had made an effort to lose weight. Then he looked at the programme of races that I was to do and told me that in his opinion I was not bad and that I could become a good rider, but that in order to continue to work with him, in view of my salary, would cost 10,000 Euro a year. I tried at first to ask him if he could come down a bit because I couldn't afford it. He said that he could help me a bit since I was a friend of Popovych, but that if I paid less then he would spend less time with me. Also during this second meeting Dr Ferrari nade no mention of any banned treatment, limiting himself to evaluating the parameters of the test, and explaining those test values to me as physical efforts and thresholds. Based upon these results, Ferrari produced for me a training table, giving me instructions on how to eat to lose weight. The table was for a period of fifteen days, one month before a race in the Algarve, Portugal, at the end of February 2006.

I don't remember if Popovych took part in that event, and for me the race wasn't particularly brilliant, since I fatigued on the climbs and passed the race in the service of my team. Then followed a few races in preparation for the Belgian classics, and I think I went back to Dr Ferrari some time after having taken part in a few of these during March. Also at this third meeting took place once more at his home in Ferrara. Dr Ferrari subjected me once more to tests, explained the results, and prepared another training plan. I remember however that he was satisfied with the improvement, and I certainly felt much better, bearing in mind also that I was climbing with more agility, and in training I was more precise regarding the effort and the watts to produce. I have to say that for the first two years Ferrari continued to work on training plans. I remember that he advised me to go to training camps, usually at altitude, and particularly, during the winter at Teide in the Canary Islands, on the Volcano, where we always slept at the Hotel Parador in Teide, 2,200 metres above sea level. In the hotter weather however, these camps took place at Livigno. Usually during these times the doctor would make his appearance, often without prior announcement. Popovych took part in these camps with me. At other times there were other cyclists with us, both professional, and on occasion amateur. I remember meeting Pellizzotti, Gasparotto, often Bertolini, and at least once Leonardo Bertagnolli, Filippo Pozzato, in the last year Garzelli and the three Masciarelli brothers, Roman Kreuziger. Luis Leon Sanchez and another Spaniard from Casse d'Epargne whose name I can't remember right now, a tall, strong man who we met at St Moritz when we rode to meet him at his hotel near the Athletics track where many athletes were training. At St Moritz I also met Morris Possoni. I'd like to make it clear that when we were in the Canaries, all the riders slept at the Parador, so it was easier to see who was there. At Livigno we happened to meet while out and about in the town or on the roads where we trained. I would also like to add that at Teide the doctor was right in the hotel where he could move around without trouble, and he had a room reserved to meet athletes. Michele Ferrari never spoke to two cyclists at the same time. That was also true of me and Popovych - when he worked with one of us the other always had to wait outside. His road tests of course could be carried out on more riders simultaneously, as happened to me with Popovych, Possoni, and Gasparotto. And so it's impossible for me to say what happened with each one of his clients beyond this part of the test. When the training camp was at Livigno he never came across the border to meet cyclists; meetings always happened on the Swiss side. For me personally he always arranged appointments along the climbs that you can find in a radius of around 30 km from St Moritz. On just two occasions he asked me to go to an apartment near St Moritz. I remember that you got there via Silvaplana, then turned left over the bridge that crossed the lake. The house itself, I don't know if he owned it, was in a small village after the bridge about 800 metres up the hill, then turn left. When I went to the house in Switzerland I was always alone. Of his family, I met his wife at Ferrara but we never spoke, while Michele was accompanied several times at Teide by his son Stefano. The amateur cyclists that we happened across didn't know him. I can only talk of one occasion at Teide where there was an Englishman that I knew was a sponsor from a supplement company - gels and bars - I don't remember if they sponsored Astana or CSC. Another time, again at Teide, I remember there was an amateur cyclist from Ferrara, maybe Antonio but I'm not sure, I remember that he was short, skinny, in his fifties. All I can say is that the amateurs usually were taken care of by his son Stefano. Michele told me that his son did not live with him in Ferrara but was permanently abroad, usually in Monte Carlo. Several times his daughter Sara took part in the camps at Teide, giving massages to those such as the amateurs who didn't have their own masseuse with them.

I believe that Ferrari had a deeper relationship with Vinokourov because he was always present at all the training camps in Teide, and I met him at times in Livigno too. Together with him I saw Kloden, Kachechkin, and another German from Astana, Kessler, who was found positive for testosterone. I never saw Kloden and Kessler speak with Ferrari. Both at Teide and at Livigno I saw on many occasions Vladimir Gusev. As I've said, during those first two years Michele Ferrari didn't say much to me, and I asked Popovych about it, especially considering that others were riding much more strongly, leading me to doubt that I was receiving the same treatment. In 2007 things took a turn on the occasion of the umpteenth test that I took near Bologna, around Rioveggio. I remember that I left the autostrada at Casello di Rioveggio, passed under the bridge then turned left and headed uphill towards Monzuno for several kilometres. I'll make it clear that it was not the first time that I went to this area for the test, which Ferrari only carried out at home when it was too cold and he was not on a training camp. He habitually used the region of the Appennines above Bologna at other times, when time and temperature permitted it. This time the appointment was at an agriturismo run by a family that Ferrari trusted. I got out of the car and began the test on a climb while he followed in a grey station wagon, maybe an Audi but I'm not sure. After the test he showered in a room in the agriturismo, then we spoke in the same room. Michele Ferrari saw my race programme then began to make calculations and mutter to himself. Then using a pencil but without writing anything, just pointing, he showed several race periods on the calendar, and periods between one race and the next, and expressly said to me that if I wanted to rider better I would have to take "E", making clear upon my questioning but always in a low voice that he was talking about EPO. He asked me if I knew how to get hold of it for myself, but never offered to get it himself for me. I said that I could sort it out, which I then did, getting it in Ukraine in the form of a bottle labelled Eretrostin, at least that's what it said in Cyrillic, that you can find in the supplement shops that bodybuilders frequent. I used EPO in that form according to the instructions given me by Michele Ferrari from 2007 up to spring 2008 when after a surprise drug test at my home in Quarrata I tested positive for said EPO. I believe that they could only get me that way since among the instructions given to me by Ferrari were included periods to stop taking the drug before races and thus avoid tsting positive. With regard to payment, the tariff always remained 10,000 Euro a year and because I had money troubles I always paid very late. I believe that this was the cause of the low attantion that the doctor paid to me. I always paid cash and never received any sort of receipt. I admit that I was always aware that to frequent Dr Ferrari was risky, but I decided nevertheless to run that risk for the reasons that I have said at the beginning, and because I could get an improvement in my financial situation with a better contract that would have allowed me to live better and to send a bit of cash home to my parents.

I would finally like to tell you that this morning, after learning from you that the judicial authorities were interested to hear my statement, I discussed with my wife Sara that it would be right to speak of this with my friend Yaroslav Popovych, to whom I am linked like a brother, because I'm aware that telling the truth would mean bringing in his name, and that would be very uncomfortable for me. Together with my wife I decided to call him on his phone number 3473424300, using my wife Sara's mobile phone, number 349/2806891. We did this at 11:35, deciding to ask him for a meeting because it didn't seem to us that it was appropriate to discuss it on the telephone. We used the idea of suggesting a meeting tomorrow at Milan Malpensa airport, where I have to go to leave for China, flying via Moscow, at 12:10. After the 11:35 phone call made by my wife, I received on my mobile phone 3293875795 barely a few minutes later a call from Popovych, in which he seemed to be much changed in my opinion, since he hadn't accepted the fact that my wife had offered to give some clothes to his son Jason, given the fact that he had been separated from his wife for about a year. At that point, speaking in Ukrainian, he asked me directly if there were any other problems, and in answer I replied with deliberate hesitation, clearly, and still in Ukrainian, that I wanted to make him a present of a few model Ferrari cars, believing that at that point he would be able to understand what the real reason for the call was. Popovych stayed silent for a few seconds, then I believe he understood the problem and asked me if they had been asking questions about him too. At this point, rather sharply, and with a hasty word or two of the "see you tomorrow" type I ended the conversation. My wife had listened in on the call because she understands Ukrainian a little. At 11:50 Popovych called me again on my mobile phone, suggesting that we meet the next morning on the autostrada, and to ring him around nine to confirm the meeting place. I have nothing else to add. I confirm that from now onwards I am available to conform my statements anywhere.