A dozen people have been arrested and more than 100 put under formal investigation in connection with a doping ring in Italy involving both amateurs and professionals in sports such as swimming and cycling. Those investigated include a one-time wearer of the Giro d’Italia’s maglia rosa, six members of an amateur cycling team, and the mother of a teenage swimmer who ordered doping products for her 15-year-old daughter over the internet.
The six cyclists investigated belong to the Miccolo di Pianezza amateur team, based in the outskirts of Turin, and also under investigation is ex-professional Sergio Santimaria, winner of two Giro d’Italia stages, the second of which, on Stage 1 of the 1986 edition, put him into the maglia rosa.
The inquiry, still ongoing and codenamed ‘Little Dog,’ is focused on the province of Turin and is led by Raffaele Guariniello, the Italian magistrate who a decade ago investigated allegations of doping centred on the Juventus football team, reports Italian sports daily, La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Those under investigation are not confined to the province of Turin, but elsewhere in Northern Italy and beyond. Four of those arrested are being held in prison, while the other eight are under house arrest.
Banned substances seized as part of the inquiry have been traced back to countries including Greece, Serbia, China and Egypt in the case of anabolic agents, while EPO and nandrolone discovered by investigators is said to have been stolen from the Mauriziano hospital in Turin itself.
Some 6,000 packets of drugs have been seized, with a reported value of €300,000, and the Gazzetta reports that in one raid that took place yesterday, the suspect attempted, unsuccessfully, to get rid of the evidence by throwing a bag of EPO from the balcony of their apartment.
Also being investigated under the inquiry are Andrea Diminutto, the former goalkeeper of football club AC Legnano, and 15-time national swimming champion Andrea Oriana. The latter, who competed at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, announced earlier this year that he planned to return to competition seven years after he had retired.
Meanwhile, investigators discovered that a 45-year-old mother from Lombardy had aparently bought anabolic agents an EPO online for her daughter, aged 15, a competitive swimmer.
Intercepted telephone calls made by the mother revealed her to be a woman “obsessed” with her child’s competitive performance, with phrases recorded such as “my daughter can’t finish second and must win.”
Guariniello described this particular episode as “a disturbing case.” The Gazzetta noted that the daughter is not herself under investigation, but is instead being treated as a victim of the affair.
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.