Marco Pantani case closed: 'Suicide not murder'

Investigation in Italy concludes that Marco Pantani lost his life due to suicide, and not murder

Marco Pantani
(Image credit: Graham Watson)

Italian Marco Pantani died as a result of suicide and not murder, according to an inquiry that closed on Friday in Italy. Prosecutors in Rimini could not find evidence to support a new murder theory after one year of work.

The winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France died on February 14, 2004, in a Rimini hotel. The original police work showed that he overdosed on cocaine.

Pantani last raced in the 2003 Giro, placing 14th, but dealt with drug problems on and off the bike. He overdosed on cocaine four times in 2003 alone.

"There was no evidence to show that Pantani was murdered," read a statement from Rimini's head prosecutor, Paolo Giovagnoli.

"The results show his death depended solely on his own actions, so as to consider it more likely than not a voluntary suicide death caused accidentally by a voluntary excessive intake of cocaine."

>>> Pantani’s bikes on display at Wilier

In Italy, the public continues to hold in high regard the last Giro/Tour double winner. Many believe that he was wrongly kicked out of the 1999 Giro for high haematocrit values and that others played a part in his death.

Lawyer for Pantani's parents Paolo and Tonina, Antonio De Rensis pushed a new inquiry in July last year. Based on his theory, the Pantani was murdered instead of dying of a cocaine overdose as originally ruled.

De Rensis theorised that Pantani let men into his Le Rose hotel room. They hit him and forced him to drink water diluted with lethal amounts of cocaine. After months of work, and media attention, the Giovagnoli quashed the De Rensis's murder idea on Friday.

“The door was blocked by furniture and windows were closed from inside,” read the report.

“No one could place the furniture there and get out.”

One of Italy's most respected cyclists, instead, died because of his drug problems.

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Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.