Italian said to have blood-doped in 2002 World Championship year
Mario Cipollini was a client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian is said to have been given blood transfusions, EPO and growth hormones in the year 2002, when he won amongst other the World Championship title and Milan-San Remo.
Cipollini, also known as the “Lion King” for his flamboyant personality, told Gazzetta that he had “no comment” on the charges until he'd studied the documents involved.
The Italian sports newspaper claims to have evidence of the doping relationships, with headlines of “Here are the documents which accuse Cipollini” and “The truth hurts.” It published what it said was Cipollini's doping scheme, with what Het Laatste Nieuws called “a clearly structured doping program with EPO, growth hormones, blood transfusions and other doping products” for 2002.
Cipollini's code name in the Spanish doping scheme is said to have been “Maria”, and records are said to be available for the years 2001 to 2004. The records for his outstanding year of 2002 are said to show a blood transfusion three days before Milan-San Remo and further transfusions before Gent-Wevelgem, the start of the Vuelta and a last one four days before the Worlds road race in Zolder.
That year, the 35-year-old Cipollini rode for the Italian team Acqua e Sapone – Cantina Tollo. He won not only the World road title but also Milan-San Remo, Gent-Wevelgem, six stages at the Giro d'Italia and three stages at the Vuelta a Espana.
Cipollini, with 191 professional wins in his long career, was considered the greatest sprinter of his generation, if not of all time. He turned pro in 1989 and retired in 2005, making a brief return to the peloton in 2008 with Rock Racing. He won a total of 12 Tour de France stage and 42 stages at the Giro d'Italia.