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Crime syndicate was believed to have fixed rider's ejection from 1999 Giro to avoid gambling losses...

A judge in Italy has closed an investigation into allegations that the Camorra switched Marco Pantani’s blood samples during the 1999 Giro d’Italia, causing him to be ejected from the race, with the Naples-based crime syndicate thereby avoiding heavy losses on money gambled on his victory.

The closure of the inquiry follows similar action taken in June regarding an unrelated investigation into the death in Rimini in 2004 of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia-winning cyclist, whose family now plan to take the issue to Italy’s anti-mafia authorities.

> Judge says Marco Pantani “wasn’t murdered”

In March last year, prosecutors outlined the hypothesis that the Camorra had been responsible for switching Pantani’s blood samples ahead of the start of the penultimate stage of the 1999 Giro when he was poised to win the race, resulting in his being ejected from the race for a haematocrit count beyond the permitted threshold.7

> Prosecutors say Camorra DID fix 1999 Giro d'Italia so Marco Pantani would lose

However, two months ago at the conclusion of their investigation, they said that even if that had been the case it was impossible to identify anyone who might have been involved and with potential criminal charges time-barred in any event, they recommended that the case be closed.

Judge Monica Galassi, presiding over the case in Forli in Pantani’s home region of Emilia Romagna, did just that yesterday and also refused a request by a lawyer acting for his family to have the case transferred to anti-mafia authorities in Naples.

Pantani family lawyer Antonio De Rensis, quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport, said the decision had not surprised him or his clients and that they had already decided to report the issue to the relevant local anti-mafia authorities by September.

“I respect the court’s decision,” he added, “but I have the tools and will fight right until the end. The word ‘end’ should only be said when it is truly over.

Speaking of Pantani’s mother, Tonina, he said: “Today she is as any mother would be who has read the transcripts where the Camorra say that someone had been bribed to switch the test tubes. Evidently, for some, this isn’t enough.”

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.