A public prosecutor has called for a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence for Mario Cipollini, as the former world champion stands accused of “mistreatment, injuries and threats” against his ex-wife and her current partner.
A court in Lucca heard yesterday that Cipollini, arguably the greatest sprinter of his generation, allegedly stalked and violently assaulted his ex-wife, Sabrina Landucci, through “punches, slaps, kicks… and death threats”, as well as threatening her current partner, retired footballer Silvio Giusti.
The charges against the 55-year-old, under Italian law, could result in a prison sentence of between two and six years for mistreatment in the family, and an additional six months to four years for communicating threats.
Landucci’s lawyer, Susanna Donatella Campione, is also seeking damages of €80,000 for her client, who was married to Cipollini between 1993 and 2005.
The most serious of the allegations, which date between December 2016 and January 2017, concerns an incident which took place in Landucci’s workplace, the Ego gym in Lucca. According to Landucci, Cipolinni grabbed her by the neck and banged her head against a wall, hospitalising her.
On another occasion she says that he told her, “I'll kill you. You'll hear the sound of the bones when they break”, while also allegedly stalking his ex-wife and threatening “to tear [her] brains out with his hands”.
Cipollini also allegedly threatened Giusti in front of a crowd of people at the Ego gym, shouting: “You are nobody and you are worth nothing, while I am Cipollini. If one day at 5am I wake up and I want to make you disappear, no one can find you anymore, I have friends everywhere.”
The public prosecutor, Letizia Cai, told the court this week that the former pro cyclist’s “extremely violent, extremely threatening and extremely abusive” behaviour was evident throughout his marriage to Landucci.
Cai told the court that the self-styled ‘Lion King’ once broke his wife’s bike in two because she used it “without his consent”.
The couple’s maid, who still works for Cipollini, also told the court that she had arned Landucci’s mother, Giovanna Di Simo, that her daughter was in danger of being killed, while Di Simo has also claimed that the former Saeco sprinter kept a gun under his pillow and once grabbed Landucci by the neck and chased her into the garden, armed with a revolver.
Cipollini has consistently denied all allegations against him, even – according to local newspaper La Gazzetta di Lucca – an incident which took place during the last hearing in court, when the 55-year-old reportedly forcefully pulled his ex-wife in front of her lawyer and dozens of witnesses.
The case, which was first brought to court in March 2019, has been delayed due to Covid and Cipollini’s own ill-health. In the meantime, the sprinter has also appeared in court over allegations that he beat and threatened his sister, Tiziana Cipollini. Those charges were later dropped.
Cippolini’s defence will make their closing remarks on 13 July, with a verdict expected later that day.
Despite the controversy that constantly surrounds him, Cipollini remains a hugely popular figure within Italian cycling.
Generally regarded as the fastest sprinter of the 1990s and early 2000s, the Lucca-born rider won 170 races during his colourful career, including 42 stages of the Giro d’Italia, 12 stages of the Tour de France, and Gent-Wevelgem three times, alongside his Milan-San Remo and the World Championship victories, both taken in 2002.
At the end of last month’s Giro d’Italia he appeared on Rai’s Processo alla Tappa programme – to cheers of ‘Cipo, Cipo’ from the watching crowd in Verona – where he claimed that Italian cycling became great “thanks to the work of two big scientists, Francesco Conconi and Michele Ferrari”.
In 2013, the Italian was accused of being among the clients of doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. He denied this, but later that year his name was on a list of positive doping tests published by the French Senate after 1998 Tour de France samples were retested for EPO.
Ryan joined road.cc as a news writer in December 2021. He has written about cycling and some ball-centric sports for various websites, newspapers, magazines and radio. Before returning to writing about cycling full-time, he completed a PhD in History and published a book and numerous academic articles on religion and politics in Victorian Britain and Ireland (though he remained committed to boring his university colleagues and students with endless cycling trivia). He can be found riding his bike very slowly through the Dromara Hills of Co. Down.