Italians threatens to take legal action
Speaking via his lawyer, Mario Cipollini has denied the accusations published by the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper that he was a client of Dr Eufemiano Fuentes and underwent a series of blood transfusions as part of complex doping programme during the 2002 season.
Cipollini won Milano-Sanremo, Gent-Wevelgem and then the world title in Zolder in 2002, plus six stages at the Giro d'Italia and Vuelta Espana, the best ever season of his long career.
Gazzetta dello Sport published a detailed doping calendar and hand written payment details apparently produced by Fuentes, claiming one of the documents had Cipollini's home fax number on the back of it. The Italian sports newspaper claimed that Cipollini's code name was 'Maria'.
Cyclingnews understands that Cipollini was allowed to see the evidence before publication but opted not to deny or confirm the accusations.
Cipollini reportedly returned to his home in Lucca after the front page story was published, but has yet to speak in her person. He was not at his villa in Lucca when Cyclingnews went there to find him on Saturday morning.
After several hours of silence, his lawyer Giuseppe Napoleone has now issued Cipollini's take on the revelations and is threatening to take legal action to defend Cipollini's image.
"In the name of and on behalf of Mr. Mario Cipollini and regarding the news that appeared today on the Gazzetta.it website, in the related newspaper and picked-up by several other parts of the media, this statement categorically denies the false and absurd accusations made against my client," the statement reads.
"The documents published in no way refer to him. The fax number on the incriminated table, which according to the journalistic reconstruction that apparently lead to Cipollini, isn't actually a fax number but an Italian telephone number that isn’t registered in my client's name and is actually written by hand."
"It's important to evidence that Mr. Cipollini until the end of 2004 was a resident of Monaco as confirmed by the sentence of the Florence Appeal court, that cleared him from crimes of tax avoidance."
"All of this does not add up with the defamatory news published."
"There is more. In the article, the alleged code name is apparently 'Maria or 'CP'. Yet other athletes implicated in Operacion Puerto are indicated with just a single code name: 'Birillo', 'Piti', 'Zapatero' and 'El Bufalo'. It seems that Mario Cipollini has three code names! Yet the article does not refer to that published on August 24, 2006, by the Repubblica newspaper that cites the codename of 'Pavarotti'. This means there are now three code names linked to the athlete."
"To further prove Mr. Cipollini is not linked to the claims made, he is willing to undergo any kind of hematological test to compare the 99 bags in possession of the Spanish judicial system.
"I've been given permission to defend the interests of my client in both civil and penal legal proceedings."