Mario Cipollini is facing a preliminary hearing on charges that he stalked and violently assaulted his ex-wife Sabrina Landucci and threatened her new partner, ex-footballer Silvio Giusti. An investigation into the accusations against the former cycling star has concluded and the prosecutor in Lucca, Sara Polino, requested the hearing. A judge will determine if there is sufficient evidence to indict Cipollini, according to Corriere della Sera.
The accusations date back to late 2016 and early 2017, and in the indictment request, the prosecutor stated that Cipollini physically assaulted Landucci "with punches, slaps, kicks, with injuries and death threats." The hearing is set for March 20.
Cipollini and Landucci were married in 1993 and have two daughters, but separated in 2005 just after Cipollini announced the end of his pro cycling career.
In the request for indictment, it is alleged that Cipollini repeatedly threatened Landucci, and on January 6, 2017, assaulted her at a sports centre where she works.
"I was working like every day in the sports centre when Mario assaulted me in front of colleagues and clients," said Landucci, who filed the complaint. "He grabbed my neck and then banged my head against the wall. I had injuries, I had to go to the emergency room. But more than the wounds, it hurts me was that the gesture was so violent. Even today I'm upset."
Cipollini could face two to six years imprisonment for mistreatment within the family and six months to four years for communicating threats.
In the 1990s, Cipollini brightened up the sport with his colourful personality and outrageous style, racking up 170 professional victories including the 2002 World Championships and breaking the record for most Giro d'Italia stage victories with 42.
However, his gregariousness had a darker side, and he was ejected from the 2000 Vuelta a España for punching Spaniard Francisco Cerezo in the face. Despite being known as the 'patron' of the peloton, commanding the bunch to ease its pace and squelching attacks, his teammates and contemporaries described incidents in which Cipollini acted more like a bully.
His legacy came under intense scrutiny, however, following the Operacion Puerto scandal, in which he was accused of being among the clients of doping doctor Eufemiano Fuentes, charges which he continues to deny. He was never sanctioned for doping, but retroactive testing from the 1998 Tour de France identified Cipollini's samples as being positive for EPO.