Report: Cipollini used 25 blood bags before 2003 Giro d'Italia

Mario Cipollini was a regular client of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes in the years leading up to his retirement, according to Gazzetta dello Sport. The Italian newspaper has listed the enormous quantities of EPO and blood transfusions the Italian sprinter is said to have used from 2001 through 2004.

Gazzetta reported on Saturday that Cipollini was a Fuentes client, saying he was given blood transfusions, EPO and growth hormones, especially in 2002 when he won Milan-San Remo and the World road championship, both for the only time in his career.

Cipollini has denied the charges through his lawyer, who is threatening a lawsuit against the newspaper, labeling the accusations “false and absurd”.

On Sunday, Gazzetta reported more details of what it says was Fuentes' programme for Cipollini, who is said to have gone under the code name “Maria”.  The build-up to the 2001 Giro d'Italia included nine consecutive days of EPO, followed by a blood transfusion, growth hormone and more EPO – for a total of 13,000 units of the latter. Further, according to the notes, the sprinter received a transfusion on May 19, the first stage of the race.

Things picked up in 2002, becoming “more complex and sophisticated,” according to Gazzetta.  As outlined in the previous article, Cipollini is said to have had 13 blood bags, amongst other preparations, on his way to his victories in Milan-San Remo and the Worlds in Zolder.

But that was nothing compared to 2003, although the doping scheme for that season actually started in December 2002 when two units of blood were removed. January saw further blood removals and re-infusions, as well as 11 days of hormone treatment, with a similar pattern in February. 

He is said to have received a final transfusion three days before Milan-San Remo, making a total of 16 bags in the early part of the season.  He received up to nine more before the start of the Giro in early May.

The newspaper also rebutted the statement by Cipollini's attorney, in which he said that the telephone number was not that of his client, who officially lived in Monaco and not in Italy.  Gazzetta said that “the phone number connected to the code name "Maria" is a number in Lucca which we at the time called Cipollini in those years, in spite of his residence was in Monaco.”

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