Is the Marco Pantani 'murder' court case finally over?

Italian judge archives the Marco Pantani murder theory case brought by the former cyclist's parents in 2014

(Image credit: Yuzuru SUNADA)

The court case examining the possible murder of Marco Pantani, winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and Tour de France, is over, with a cocaine overdose remaining the cause of death.

On Monday, the investigating judge archived a murder theory case opened two years ago by the cyclist's parents, citing a lack of proof.

Pantani died on February 14, 2004, at the age of 34 in a Rimini hotel. The original police work showed that he overdosed on cocaine.

"Neither the news of crime nor the existence of investigations brought about at least one name of a possible suspect different from the ones already prosecuted or a hypothetical motive," La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reported that Rimini Head Prosecutor Paolo Giovagnoli said in his closing statement.

Investigating Judge Vinicio Cantarini ordered the case closed after it was pushed opened in July 2014 by Paolo and Tonina Pantani. They argued that men forced their way into Pantani's hotel room along the eastern coast, beat him and forced him to drink water diluted with lethal amounts of cocaine.

Pantani, however, was found alone in his Le Rose hotel room with the door locked and blocked with furniture from the inside. The cyclist also had a cocaine problem, overdosing four times in 2003.

Giovagnoli said last year in court documents: "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."

The original 2005 case found three men guilty of supplying the cocaine that killed Pantani. Fabio Carlino arranged the final 30 grams of cocaine that killed Pantani, Fabio Miradossa took the order in Naples and gave the cocaine to Ciro Veneruso. Veneruso delivered it from Naples to Pantani.

In 2005, Miradossa bargained for a four-year, 10-month prison sentence and Veneruso for three years, 10 months. The courts sentenced Carlino in 2008 to four years, six months in prison, and ordered him to pay €19,000 in fines and €300,000 in compensation to Pantani's family. In 2011, Italy's highest court of dropped charges against Carlino.

Pantani finished third in the Tour de France twice, behind winners Miguel Indurain and Jan Ullrich. He was the last to win the Giro/Tour double in 1998. However, drugs took their toll on and off the bike. Officials, who found high hematocrit values that indicated EPO use, sent him home from the 1999 Giro when he was in the leader's pink jersey with just two days to race.

That test is the centre of another investigation, also opened by Pantani's parents, near Rimini in Forlì. A judge is examining if the Mafia played a role in Pantani's anti-doping test and expulsion from the 1999 Giro. A decision is due on July 6, when the judge could either allow investigators to dig deeper or archive the case.

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