The police investigation sparked by suspicions that Marco Pantani was murdered is expected to end in the next two months after a key autopsy review indicated that Pantani died due to a heart attack sparked by a lethal overdose of cocaine and anti-depressant medication.
In recent months, reports in the Italian media based largely on one-sided information from the Pantani family lawyer Antonio De Rensis, had suggested that Pantani could have been forced to drink diluted cocaine from a bottle after being attacked in his hotel room in Rimini.
The new autopsy ordered by the Rimini police dispels those accusations and other circumstantial evidence that has raised doubts about Pantani's demise. A recently published book by local reporter Andrea Rossini also debunked the claims made by De Rensis and Pantani's mother.
According to Professor Franco Tagliaro’s 64-page report, “Marco Pantani died from an acute heart attack brought on by a mixture of medicinal drugs and cocaine.” He added that his death may be “due to excessive consumption of anti-depressants … with the ultimate aim of self-destruction.”
“No elements emerged to hypothesis a forced consumption.”
While questions remain about the way the police carried out its investigation of the crime scene Tagliaro's report convinced the head of the investigation, Paolo Giovagnoli, to tell Italian media that “at the moment there are no elements to think it was murder but the investigation continues.”
Giovagnoli has given Professor Tagliaro 40 days to carry out further chemical analysis. Tagliaro suggests that the quantity of cocaine that Pantani consumed was not enough to kill him but will investigate if the reaction between cocaine and the anti-depressant tablets had a role in his death.
Tagliaro suggests that a bed sheet and a television cable could indicate Pantani's desire to commit suicide, with an overdose of cocaine and anti-depressants consumed alone proving to be fatal.