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Prosecutors close investigation into alleged abuse at Italian cycling federation

(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

The Federazione Ciclistica Italiana (FCI), with the approval of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), has announced that it has closed its investigation into allegations of inappropriate behaviour, abuse and bullying at the women's national team that dated back to 2005. 

The investigation, which started in August, was labelled 'against unknown persons' and conducted based on alleged illegal conduct committed against athletes registered with the FCI. 

"Regarding the investigation file no. 15/2019 of alleged illicit behaviour towards licenced athletes of the FCI (Italian Cycling Federation), following the numerous media reports of the 'Me Too' phenomenon, it has been announced that following investigations, including the obtaining of documents and peaking to witnesses, the Procura Generale dello Sport in accordance with the CONI (Comitato Olimpico Nazionale Italiano), on October 24, 2019, has authorized the closing of the case," read a brief statement from the FCI.

The official outcome along with the details of the investigation have not been released. Cyclingnews contacted FCI president Renato Di Rocco for a comment regarding the findings of the investigation.

"I read the statement and requested the documents to evaluate how to react," Di Rocco told Cyclingnews.

FCI federal deputy prosecutor Nicola Capozzoli led the investigation that included interview sessions with formerly and currently registered athletes, along with staff within the Italian federation. It was reported that the head coach of the women's national team, Edoardo Salvoldi, who has been working with the federation for more than two decades, was questioned in relation to the case. 

Salvoldi is a well-known coach in women's cycling and has led Italy's women's national team to more than 200 medals in his nearly two decades of coaching at the federation. 

Reports in the Italian press linked Salvoldi to the case after it was made public in September. 

Retired Olympian Silvio Martinello, who held a position as road and track general director at the federation in 2005, said in a report on Tuttobici that he had filed a complaint with the federation reporting "inappropriate behaviour of a coach", at that time, citing what he called "psychological conditioning".

In October, Il Corriere della Sera published allegations of psychological harassment levelled against Salvoldi by one of his former track athletes, Maila Andreotti.  

Attorney Camilla Beltramini has told Il Corriere that Andreotti was summoned by the federal prosecutor's office because her name was in a newspaper article.

"She does not seek revenge, she has not reported sexual violence against him [Salvoldi]. We hope that we will also deal with the psychological aspect of the story." 

Salvoldi denied all accusations of alleged abuse and said that he had never witnessed any inappropriate behaviour or abuse during his time working at the Italian federation. 

He provided Cyclingnews with a statement through his lawyer stating that he had intended to take legal action to protect his reputation.

"I don't understand where this desire of defamation comes from," Salvoldi told Cyclingnews at the time. 

"I still can't understand which private interests lie behind this fake plot. I've nothing to hide. I wait trustful the conclusion of the investigation. I take comfort by the great solidarity shown in these days by all the people I met also in my role of National Coach. 

"These are unacceptable charges that offend me first of all as a human person. I asked my lawyer to take legal actions in order to protect my reputation and those of those who have transmitted me the values in which I believe. The authors of such statements will have to answer to the authorities."

Cyclingnews had reached out to FCI president Di Rocco, who confirmed that there was an ongoing investigation but, at the time, said he would not make any further comment regarding the case or the national team coaching staff until the investigation is concluded. 

He also told the Italian media that any results of the investigation would be shared with CONI. After discussing the contents of the investigation, both FCI and CONI, made the decision to closed the two-month investigation on Thursday, October 24. 

Di Rocco told Tuttobici that he was satisfied with the outcome of the investigation.

"It is the demonstration that justice works," Di Rocco said, according to a report on Tuttobici

"I have always been calm about all the activities of the Public Prosecutor, who has done a great job. I was only sorry for the media lynching to which a very valid technician was subjected who did not deserve all this.

"Now let's breathe a little, and then as soon as possible we will also read the documents of the case and if our lawyers deem it appropriate, I do not exclude that we will move in the appropriate forums to defend the good name of the Federation and of those who are part of it."