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

by Simon_MacMichael   February 11, 2013  

Mario Cipollini (copyright Simon MacMichael)

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.

 

 

13 user comments

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Every time I hear stories like this I'm happy that the truth is finally being revealed but on the other hand I'm so angry that people will talk about doping in cycling again.

It would be so beautiful if only other sports organisations did as much as cycling authorities to investigate doping cases. What is good however, is that journalists seem to have realised the problem and start asking hard difficult questions - let's hope they will take part in cleaning up professional sport.

blog rowerowy - my blog about bicycles (written in Polish, but feel free to visit me! Smile )

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posted by mikroos [183 posts]
12th February 2013 - 1:31

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No need to worry about other sports. Cycling is a better sport for it. Good for the Italians for taking it upon themselves to investigate; whether the evidence is enough remains to be determined.

Charlie Horse

posted by ch [100 posts]
12th February 2013 - 4:55

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"The Lyin' King"

Has anyone else said that yet? Big Grin

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posted by Ghedebrav [1091 posts]
12th February 2013 - 8:29

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@ch, agreed, they seem to have a rather different approach to the Spanish.

@Ghedebrav - congratulations, you win the internet! I haven't heard that one until now. Big Grin

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3114 posts]
12th February 2013 - 10:03

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It'd be shocking if he DIDN'T dope. Not sure why he bothers denying it, other than worrying about the impact on his business.

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posted by G-bitch [302 posts]
12th February 2013 - 10:05

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Seen in a L'Equipe comment: "The Lion King doping who next Snow White?"

Paul W

posted by PaulVWatts [111 posts]
12th February 2013 - 10:08

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PaulVWatts wrote:
Seen in a L'Equipe comment: "The Lion King doping who next Snow White?"

Well it obvious Snow White was the only one in that house who used HGH Smile

posted by pwake [291 posts]
12th February 2013 - 14:53

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WHO GIVES A SHIT!!!! The guy was rad, he retired, case closed...

posted by mattsavage [13 posts]
12th February 2013 - 18:51

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A newspaper makes a headline with only supposition and a headlines to affect there bottom line and every one assumes given the nature of this he is guilty.

If he did or didn't dope irrelevant, I have as much time for dopers as I do papers dragging up old cyclists and saying they dopers.

The other thing that made me laugh was the idea of being taken to court with no one saying here is evidence however small.

Anyone fancy there time in court because one of your friends told the press that you maybe did something illegal.

posted by Ciaran Patrick [117 posts]
12th February 2013 - 18:57

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Ciaran Patrick wrote:
A newspaper makes a headline with only supposition and a headlines to affect there bottom line and every one assumes given the nature of this he is guilty.

If he did or didn't dope irrelevant, I have as much time for dopers as I do papers dragging up old cyclists and saying they dopers.

The other thing that made me laugh was the idea of being taken to court with no one saying here is evidence however small.

Anyone fancy there time in court because one of your friends told the press that you maybe did something illegal.

To be fair to the Gazzetta dello Sport, their story is based on much more than supposition.

If the documentation they published in recent days is what they say it is - and I think there's a pretty strong case that it is, and their lawyers must be 100 per cent certain to have let it go to print in the form it did - then it's less a case of a smoking gun and more one in which the bullet is still spinning out of the barrel.

I don't think CONI would have opened a file if it didn't believe there was a case to answer. Worth remembering also that were it not for CONI's persistence, Valverde would never have served a ban - the Spanish authorities weren't exactly falling over themselves to prosecute that case.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8036 posts]
12th February 2013 - 19:57

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I'm sure with media reports being what they are in this day and age, all it takes for the lawyers to be happy is to have a minimal chance of being counter sued. In these he-said-she-said cases, there's just some words flung about with no proof from either side that lies were actually told but in the meantime many papers are sold - which is the goal.

posted by Nick T [805 posts]
12th February 2013 - 23:23

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Nick T wrote:
In these he-said-she-said cases, there's just some words flung about with no proof from either side...

It's not a "he said she said" case though.

The Gazzetta has what it says is proof, documentation seized from Fuentes by the Guardia Civil, copies of which its Madrid correspondent has obtained, and images of which it has published in the print edition in recent days. It looks like pretty damning stuff.

In Cipollini's case, the notes, said to be in Fuentes's hand include the very same phone number Italian journalists would use to contact the cyclist at the time in question.

In Basso's case, the notes, again said to be written by Fuentes, include the codename - that of his dog, Birillo - which Basso himself has admitted was how he was identified by Fuentes.

There's another point to consider. Yes, the Gazzetta wants to sell more papers. But it is also owned by the company that owns the Giro d'Italia.

I'd be surprised if the decision to run the stories wasn't made at group level - if you are in effect casting doubt on the legitimacy of the most successful stage winner in the history of the Giro, and the most recent home rider to have won it twice - both two of the biggest stars of Italian cycling of the last two decades - you don't do it lightly, especially if there is also a potentially damaging impact on the race you own.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [8036 posts]
13th February 2013 - 2:55

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great news, at last this long time show off will hopefully get what's coming to him, another one bites the dust ....

posted by Karbon Kev [671 posts]
13th February 2013 - 10:58

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