A judge in Rimini has ruled that Marco Pantani’s death in the resort on Italy’s Adriatic coast in February 2004 was not due to murder, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.
Vinicio Cantarini said there was no evidence to support the theory Pantani had been killed, as the judge officially closed a two-year inquiry opened at the instigation of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia winner’s family.
In February, the local chief prosecutor, Paolo Giovagnoli, had asked that the investigation be brought to an end after finding no evidence of mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of Pantani in a hotel room.
It had been claimed that the 34-year-old had been forced to take a lethal dose of cocaine by persons unknown, but that was discounted, with the investigation concluding his death was due to suicide or an accidental overdose.
The closure of the investigation is not quite the end of legal proceedings that have dragged on for years and have as their background the insistence of the Pantani family that foul play was involved.
In March this year, prosecutors in Forli said they believed that Pantani’s ejection for excessive haematocrit levels from the 1999 Giro d’Italia.
He had been poised to win the race had been engineered by Naples-based crime syndicate the Camorra, which faced huge illegal gambling losses had he won.
Due to a statute of limitations, no charges can ever be brought against those believed responsible and the investigation – again, brought after pressure from the Pantani family – is expected to be formally closed following a hearing next week.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.