By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Although Fassa Bortolo team manager Giancarlo Ferretti called Dario Frigo a "scoundrel with a capital S" in a hysterical TV interview with RAI-Sport-TV's Auro Bulbarelli last week, Frigo's father Rosello and sister Elga have stepped in to defend Dario. On July 12th, Frigo's wife Susanna was stopped by French customs police near Chambéry and when her car was searched, they found a thermos with what was alleged to be 10 vials of EPO under a layer of ice. Susanna Frigo was detained and the next morning, Dario Frigo was brought in for questioning by French gendarmes. That evening, Frigo and his wife were released on €30,000 bail and returned to their home in Monte Carlo, but the couple will have to return to France soon for pre-trial guarded custody at the house of French friends. Susanna Frigo risks three years in prison for trafficking illicit substances, while Frigo himself risks two years in the pokey as an accessory to trafficking.
In an interview with La Gazzetta dello Sport on July 16th, Rosello Frigo explained his family's remorse, saying, "Dario has made a mistake and he should pay, but what was said (by Ferretti) about him is not right. I want to ask Ferretti is he understands what he said about Dario. Because if Dario is a scoundrel, what is Ferretti? Did he remember when doping products were found in the team vehicles? I'm convinced that Ferretti knows nothing about cycling..."
Frigo's father poignantly explained further, "We are not a family of monsters and Dario isn't a scoundrel like Ferretti says. (Dario's) a person with a weak character, he's a fragile person. I'm afraid for him...the bicycle is his life. Look at others, like Pantani, Jimenez...please, help us to help Dario. We're honest, respectable people and we're not stupid. Dario, I want to talk to you. Help me understand where we went wrong."
The same day as Rosello Frigo's interview with La Gazzetta, his sister Elga sent an open letter to the media along the same lines as her fathers points about Dario Frigo. Although Frigo has not yet spoken to his father, his agent Giuseppe Acquadro called Mr. Frigo Saturday to pass along a message from Dario to his family.