By Jonny Long
Mario Cipollini has been accused in court by the mother of his ex-wife of chasing her daughter around her garden with a gun.
The former sprinter is on trial accused of stalking his ex-wife and making threats against her current partner, a retired professional footballer.
Giovanna Di Simo, the 79-year-old mother of Cipollini's ex-wife Sabrina Landucci, has acussed the former world champion of being "an aggressive person", saying he "kept a gun under his pillow. I saw him with my own eyes grabbing Sabrina by the neck at the bottom of the stairs of my house and then chasing her in the garden, wearing a brace on his knee after a skiing accident, armed with a revolver."
Di Simo's startling testimony includes claims of harassment and that Cipollini threatened her family.
"I will never forgive myself for not denouncing my daughter's ex-husband when, before the separation, he used violence against Sabrina and threatened our family. Even my granddaughters were afraid of their father that they never contradicted him," Di Simo said, as reported by Il Tirreno. "My daughter didn't want to hurt him: she didn't want to compromise her career and so suffered harassment after harassment. When, after yet another betrayal, she returned home to us and brought her daughters with her, he flooded her with messages and telephone calls at any time of day or night."
Di Simo went on to say claim Cipollini used to hide the difficulties in his relationship with her daughter from here and that the 52-year-old's maid once called her to say she was worried he might kill his ex-wife.
"I have known Cipollini since he was not even 20 years old and he was still professional and the champion adored by the crowds. I hosted him at home because his parents had thrown him out. I never liked him and I didn't want Sabrina to marry him. But she is stubborn and was in love. He always tried to hide the difficulties in their relationship from me. I learned about it after the birth of their first daughter.
"The method used by the Lion King? Phone calls with screams that were heard even without both day and night handsfree or text messages sent a hundred times a day. Possessive and jealous. First he cried and asked for forgiveness, asking her to go home and then he started insulting her and threatening her and all her relatives saying she was ready to make a massacre. Once their maid telephoned me telling me to run to Cipollini's house because she feared he would kill Sabrina. I rushed over there and noticed red marks on her neck as if the then husband had grabbed her by the throat. She cried and told me that he had also dragged her by the hair. I invited her to go to the emergency room, but she was afraid both for us family members and for not wanting to ruin Cipollini's career."
In February, Cipollini was in court accused of leaving his sister with multiple bruises after striking her in the face after a disagreement over the custody of his pet chihuahua. The charges were subsequently dropped.
The former Italian sprinter underwent five-hour heart surgery late last year, with his doctor saying he came close to dying.
At that time, Cipollini said: "I am 52 years old and still have some things to do in life. In a very difficult time, I found myself in the hospital in the best possible situation. I have lived through intense moments that I could not have imagined."
Commenting on the then upcoming court case concerning his ex-wife, he said: "No comment. It would not be right to speak about this in the newspaper before speaking with the judge."
Hi. I'm Cycling Weekly's Weekend Editor. I like writing offbeat features and eating too much bread when working out on the road at bike races. I'm 6'0", 26 years old, have a strong hairline and have an adequate amount of savings for someone my age. I'm very single at the minute so if you know anyone, hit me up.
Before joining Cycling Weekly I worked at The Tab, reporting about students evacuating their bowels on nightclub dancefloors and consecrating their love on lecture hall floors. I've also written for Vice, Time Out, and worked freelance for The Telegraph (I know, but I needed the money at the time so let me live).
I also worked for ITV Cycling between 2011-2018 on their Tour de France and Vuelta a España coverage. Sometimes I'd be helping the producers make the programme and other times I'd be getting the lunches. Just in case you were wondering - Phil Liggett and Paul Sherwen had the same ham sandwich every day, it was great.
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