Mother suspects foul play behind cycling star’s death


Wed, Sep 18, 2013 - Page 19

The mother of former Tour de France champion Marco Pantani has called for an inquest into his death to be reopened because she suspects foul play.

Italian star Pantani, the winner of the Tour de France and Giro d’Italia in 1998, officially died of a cocaine overdose at a hotel complex in Rimini, Italy, on Feb. 14, 2004.

Yet after studying court documents recently, Pantani’s mother, Tonina, believes many questions still remain unanswered.

She suggested that Pantani’s death may have been facilitated by figures keen to stop him exposing the extent of drug use in the peloton.

“I’ve asked for the re-opening of the investigation because I want explanations, I want answers,” she told the Mattino Cinque television program.

“I want to know how he died. My biggest concern is that he may have been killed. In my opinion, Marco had ruffled someone’s feathers,” she said. “He spoke his mind and talked about doping, that doping was a big problem.”

Earlier this year, a damning French parliamentary commission named Pantani among several cycling stars to have used the banned blood booster erythropoietin during the 1998 Tour.

It was the cyclist’s last Grand Tour victory and came two months after he won the Giro.

However, faced with drugs use allegations, he became depressed and never really recovered.

His death was attributed to acute cocaine poisoning, but Tonina says recent documents released from the court contain “false” accusations.

“I’ve seen the court documents and there are things written in there which are just not true,” she said.

She says Pantani may not have been alone in the hours before his death.

“Marco wasn’t alone in the Rimini residence where he was found dead, there could have been other people with him,” she said. “He called the police, complaining of people who were bothering him and an hour later he was found dead.”