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Cecchini denies sending Cipollini to Dr. Fuentes

Stephen Farrand
February 9, 2013, 22:54,
February 9, 2013, 22:54
Second Edition Cycling News, Saturday, February 9, 2013
Mario Cipollini at the start of the 2004 Tour de France in Liege

Mario Cipollini at the start of the 2004 Tour de France in Liege

  • Mario Cipollini at the start of the 2004 Tour de France in Liege
  • Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing)

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Italian doctor suggests police are only solution to doping

Italian doctor Luigi Cecchini has denied being the link between Mario Cipollini and numerous others big-name riders in Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes' blood doping ring.

Speaking exclusively to Cyclingnews at the gates of his villa on the outskirts of Lucca, Cecchini claimed he has not even studied riders' blood values since 1998. Cecchini is not mentioned in Gazzetta dello Sport's report on Cipollini's link to Dr. Fuentes but he is widely known to have worked with Cipollini.

"I've read what Gazzetta dello Sport has published about Mario Cipollini but I've nothing to do with him and Dr. Fuentes. I didn’t send Cipollini to Fuentes," Cecchini told Cyclingnews.

Cecchini is now in his seventies and claimed he has stopped working in cycling, preferring to fly his private plane in his spare time. He graduated as a sport doctor in his forties, and along with Dr. Michele Ferrari was one of the leading disciples of Professor Francesco Conconi.

He was closely linked to Giancarlo Ferretti and his Ariostea and Fassa Bortolo teams, before working with Bjarne Riis and many of the biggest names in professional cycling of the last 20 years. His known former clients include Jan Ullrich, Alessandro Petacchi, Thomas Dekker, Tyler Hamilton, Ivan Basso, Michele Bartoli, Max Sciandri, Fabian Cancellara and many more.

Cecchini successfully raced in age-related races in Tuscany and often went training with many of his riders. He tested their form on the Monte Serra climb that divides Pisa and Lucca. Many have defended Cecchini even after being caught for doping. Tyler Hamilton wrote in his book that Cecchini never gave him any EPO and warned him about working with Fuentes.

"I've done tests and prepared training programmes for lots of riders over the years, but I was never involved in doping them. Ask them and any other rider, they'll defend me. I was investigated by Italian police a long time ago but I was never put on trial. That must mean something," Cecchini told Cyclingnews.

He flatly denied that he must have known if his riders were doping or not.

"It's not that simple. Just because I coached them, it doesn't mean I could tell if they were doping, even with SRM data, or whatever. I never knew that riders might have been doping."

"My concience is clear. I know I didn’t do anything wrong, even if God is the final judge of if we lived honest lives."

Cecchini was not willing to say any more and refused the idea that he and other sports doctors who worked in the last two decades could play a vital role in helping clean up professional cycling. He suggested a special international police force is needed for that task.

"I'm old and probably only have five years to live. I love cycling like lots of people but I'm not interested in trying to help find a solution to the doping problem. It's not up to me," he said.

"I think all the police investigations have proved that the anti-doping controls don't work, that they're a waste of time and of huge amounts of money. I think we should use those millions to create a special international police force that can work to fight doping. That's the only real solution."

Adrian Nastasoiu More than 1 year ago
To be honest,I really believe this guy.I've red Tyler's Hamilton book,and the guy says it clear that Cecchini helped him only with training,teaching him to accelerate on the log climbs and stuff like that.
Pignone Fisso More than 1 year ago
Don't really care if Cipollini doped. He put on a great show, and I enjoyed every bit of it. We all want clean professional sports, but it's not up to us fans to clean them up. So what's left to do but enjoy the great performances, whether they're done clean or doped?
Alexander Scott More than 1 year ago
I totally agree with you. Any one who is a spectator of professional sports is just there for the show. If they dope they dope. I watched some of the action at the tour down under and for it being the first race of the season and the speeds they were reaching, I mean common. Doping is still around and I agree with Dr. Cecchini, "I think all the police investigations have proved that the anti-doping controls don't work, that they're a waste of time and of huge amounts of money." Let's move on to just watching the races.
PeterMc More than 1 year ago
Add me into the same group of enough already. Lets just get on with the racing.... would be a really nice Nirvana if the sport was clean, but as a realist I believe that SPORT in general will never be clean. What's more, I believe that the majority of the doctors country men also feel the same....