Italian anti-doping authority opens investigation into Mario Cipollini
Anti-doping arm of Italian national Olympic committee CONI takes action after Gazzetta dello Sport claims
The anti-doping ofice of the Italian national Olympic committee, CONI, has announced that it has opened an investigation into former world champion Mario Cipollini as a result of the allegations of doping against him that have appeared in the press.
On Saturday, Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport published a year planner that it claimed showed a doping programme drawn up for Cipollini by Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes during the 2002 season - the year he won both Milan-Sanremo and the world road championship for the only time.
The newspaper has subsequently published further allegations against the 45-year-old, whose lawyer has denounced the newspaper's claims as "absurd."
Cipollini is said to have been a client of Fuentes between 2001 and 2004, which in theory would put him outside the World Anti-Doping Code's current eight year statute of limitations.
The United States Anti-Doping Agency did not apply that in the Lance Armstrong case, insisting that the conspiracy that characterised that case rendered the limitation invalid.
It is not clear whether there is a belief that the wider Operacion Puerto scandal, for which Fuentes and others are currently on trial in Madrid on charges relating to public health, may result in Cipollini being viewed as potentially part of a wider conspiracy.
The Gazzetta dello Sport outlined yesterday a scenario in which CONI's anti-doping office could call Cipollini to appear before it - it adds that since he is not currently a licence holder, he could choose not to respond - with action potentially proceeding to Italy's national anti-doping court and even the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Only at that point, assuming the case went against Cipollini, would the UCI then consider whether to strip him of any results, and if the statute of limitations were indeed to apply, he would only lost the very last win of his career, the Giro della Provincia di Lucca, his home province, which he won in March 2005.