“Marco Pantani was murdered.” That’s the front page headline of today’s edition of Italian sports La Gazzetta dello Sport , which reports that more than 10 years after the cyclist’s death on St Valentine’s Day 2004 in a Rimini hotel room, investigating magistrates have reopened the case into his death.
Officially, Pantani’s death at the age of 34 was due to cocaine poisoning, but during the decade since his death at Le Rose hotel in the Adriatic resort, many have felt that there was more to the case than met the eye, including his family.
Their lawyer, Antonio De Rensis, has now submitted new evidence to the public prosecutor’s office in Rimini which claims that prior to his death, Pantani let people he knew into his room who subsequently beat him then forced him to drink cocaine diluted in water.
Once he was dead, the room was deliberately put in disarray to make it look as though his death had been an accident, claims the family’s lawyer, who also pointed out that no forensic analysis was ever undertaking of a water bottle discovered there, nor were fingerprints taken at the scene.
The newspaper says that the case has been assigned by the chief prosecutor of Rimini, Paolo Giovagnoli, to a junior colleague, Elisa Milocco, who will lead the new investigation to try and get to the bottom of what happened.
In 2005, three men were found guilty of supplying the cocaine to Pantani that supposedly caused his fatal overdose, although the verdict against one of them, Fabio Carlino, was reversed on appeal in 2011.
Prior to Vincenzo Nibali’s victory in the Tour de France last weekend, Pantani was the last Italian to win that race, and his win in 1998 also marks the last time any rider completed the Tour-Giro double.
The following year, Pantani was thrown out of the Giro d’Italia while leading the race after his haematocrit level was found to exceed the permitted 50 per cent.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.