Michele Acquarone has spoken for the first time since he was suspended by Giro d'Italia race organiser's RCS Sport from his role of Chief Operating Officer, insisting he is not involved in the suspected misappropriation of several million Euros.
Acquarone did not attend the presentation of the 2014 Giro d'Italia route in Milan on Monday and has been formally suspended by RCS Sport as an internal audit is carried by the Milan-based media company. Italian media has reported that up to 13 million Euros may have disappeared from accounts between 2005 and 2013. CEO Giacomo Catano, Matteo Pastore, the head of communications and external relations at RCS Sport and Laura Bertinotti, head of accounts and administration have also been suspended.
In a letter sent to the media Acquarone specified he is not involved in the suspected fraud.
"I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days," he writes.
"Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified."
New RCS Sport CEO Riccardo Taranto told Cyclingnews that Acquarone has been suspended for reasons of governance rather than as punishment. However Acquarone's profile has been removed from the RCS Sport management profile.
Acquarone confirmed he hopes to return to active duty as soon as possible so he can work on the organisation of the 2014 Giro d'Italia.
"I only dream about the day I can return to my team, and get back to working towards the 2014 Giro d’Italia, with even greater enthusiasm than that which has driven me over these years," he writes.
"Thank you for your support, and see you soon."
Michele Acquarone's full letter:
I have dedicated fourteen years of my life to the RCS Group, the last five of which I spent working tirelessly on strengthening and growing RCS Sport. As director of Giro d’Italia, I sought to develop the prestige of this event as part of Italy’s heritage and for cycling fans all over the world. Looking at the results, I would say that I have succeeded.
It was much to my frustration however that I could not participate in the presentation of that which I consider one of my most accomplished creations, the 2014 Giro d’Italia, and I apologise to all the friends I could not meet with.
Those who know me, are well aware that my professional style is based on three key concepts: fairness, respect and dialogue. Those who know me, also know that I hold the trust of fans and of people involved in the industry, at the centre of my heart, and if today I can benefit from such trust, it is because I have always worked with greatest transparency and honesty, as well as with total dedication and loyalty to the RCS Group.
For the ties linking me to Giro fans and to the people involved in the industry, I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days.
Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified.
I only dream about the day I can return to my team, and get back to working towards the 2014 Giro d’Italia, with even greater enthusiasm than that which has driven me over these years.
Thank you for your support, and see you soon.