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Race director Michele Acquarone at stage two of the 2012 Giro d'Italia
Former CEO Giamomo Catano also fired
Giro d’Italia director Michele Acquarone has reportedly been fired by RCS Sport following an internal investigation into the possible misappropriation of around €13 million from the company’s accounts.
Acquarone was suspended from his position as Chief Operating Officer of RCS Sport in early October, when news of the missing funds first emerged. According to the Italian news agency lapresse.it, Acquarone and former CEO Giacomo Catano were sacked by RCS Sport on Tuesday.
It is not known whether Acquarone was directly involved in the misappropriation of funds, but as Managing Director, he was responsible for the management and finances of the company. In mid-November, it was reported that magistrates in Milan had formally opened an investigation into the misappropriation of funds at RCS.
In a statement issued on October 11, Acquarone insisted he was not involved in the alleged misappropriation.
"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 said. "Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified."
Last weekend, Acquarone told Cyclingnews that he had not had any contact from RCS since his suspension began almost two months ago, and announced that he would tell his side of the story in full at a press conference in Milan on Thursday. Acquarone declined to comment when contacted by Cyclingnews after news of his sacking emerged, saying that he would hold his counsel until his press conference later in the week.
An employee of RCS since 1999, Acquarone took over the reins of the Giro d’Italia from Angelo Zomegnan in the summer of 2011 and immediately began to modernize the race and raise its international profile.
Race director Mauro Vegni is expected to assume the role of director of the Giro d’Italia, while Paolo Bellino is rumoured to take on the position of CEO of RCS Sport. Bellino is a former 400m runner and current general secretary of the Italian Athletics Federation. He has experience in organising major athletic events.