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Guest kidlugz

the death of marco pantani

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Guest kidlugz



The Italian, who was 34, had the talent to go down as one of cycling's greats, but after winning the Tour de France in 1998 his life and career spiralled out of control.


That year was the zenith of his career - as well as the blue riband Tour title, Pantani also won the Giro d'Italia.


Pantani, known as "The Pirate", had been expected to become a major force in cycling since he made a name for himself taking on the great Miguel Indurain in the mountains of the Tour and Giro in 1995, and now he had well and truly arrived.


But that nickname was to come to reflect more than his bald head, goatee beard, earrings and bandana.


The year Pantani won his greatest triumph also saw cycling rocked by a massive drugs scandal, when a masseur with the Festina team, one of the best and most famous in the sport, was found to have performance-enhancing drugs in his car.


Pantani was not involved in that controversy, but he was to brew up plenty of his own.


A new force arrived in cycling in 1999, as Lance Armstrong returned from a headline-grabbing battle with cancer to win the first of what has become a record-equalling run of five Tours de France.


Pantani chased the great American all the way, but the Italian had already become embroiled in the scandal that would overwhelm his career.


Pantani, a tiny man who excelled on the toughest mountain stages, was thrown off the 1999 Giro d'Italia after failing a test for haematocrit - an indicator, though not proof, of the use of performance-enhancing drugs.



1970: Born on 13 Jan in Cesena, Italy

1992: Makes professional debut

1995: Bronze in World Championships

1998: Won Giro d'Italia and Tour de France

1999: Thrown out of Giro for failing blood test

2001: Syringe of insulin found in Pantani's room during Giro

2002: Banned for eight months but wins appeal

2003: Spends year battling for reputation in court. June - books into clinic for depression and drug use. October - acquitted of sporting fraud


It marked the start of a battle from which Pantani will now never emerge.


From that point on, scandal seemed to follow Pantani everywhere he went - on and off the cycling stages.


Another titanic battle with Armstrong followed on the 2000 Tour.


It started innocently enough, when the two men rode side-by-side at the head of the field up the daunting Mont Ventoux stage, with Armstrong allowing Pantani to win in an apparently sporting recognition of his rival's ability.


But the American later said he regretted giving up the stage, and angered Pantani by referring to him as "Elefantino" - the little elephant - in reference to his prominent ears.


Pantani was furious, and set about trying to destroy Armstrong's Tour by powering ahead on a later stage. He failed, but made an enemy for life, at a time when he badly needed friends.


At this time, cycling's reputation was perhaps as low as it had ever been, as a series of top names became embroiled in a seemingly never ending run of drugs scandals.


And Pantani was never far from the headlines.


In 2001, a syringe containing traces of insulin was found in his hotel room in a police raid.



Armstrong and Pantani fought a brief, but intense rivalry

Pantani insisted the syringe had been planted and that he did not stay in the room on the night in question. But a court did not believe him and he was suspended for six months.


Pantani was refused an entry on the Tour de France in 2002, and his life soon appeared to be heading downhill fast.


That year saw him embroiled in a series of court cases springing from the doping allegations, and he marked the beginning of 2003 with cosmetic surgery to pin back his ears.


An attempted comeback last year foundered when he failed again to secure a place on the Tour, and in June he booked himself into a clinic that specialised in depression and drug addiction.


Pantani's court battles appeared to have reached a conclusion when he was acquitted of sporting fraud by an Italian court in October last year.


But a tragic story came to its wretched end on Saturday with his death, alone, in an apartment in a seaside resort in winter.

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Guest kidlugz

I've been following this waiting for more info.


They found out he died of a heart attack, but they don't know what caused it yet. A lot of people are talking suicide. The coroners refuse to say, but have said that it will take up to 60 days to find the cause.


Armstrong wasn't the only one making comments about his ears...but yeah...I bet he does feel a bit like an ass.


Rest Il Pirata

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reader letter from velonews:


He took on giants

Dear VeloNews,

I've always been a fan of Marco Pantani since the day I happened to be in Italy to witness him take the fight to Miguel Indurain in the '94 Giro at a time when Indurain was considered unassailable.


I think that Pantani's appeal comes from the surprise of this singularly unattractive and runty little guy (The Italians called him Dumbo before "il Elephantino" and "Pirata.") who would not get event third string pick in a pickup schoolyard soccer match, slaying the handsome golden boys of the sport. He did it to Indurain, Ullrich and tried hard to take down Armstrong.


Pantani appealed to me on a sympathetic level. I can envision him as that scrawny, ugly kid we always picked on all the way through school. He couldn't get a date, couldn't make the team and was probably a lonesome loser in the eyes of his peers. When he discovered the bike, he probably found some solace and then discovered his ability to stand up to, compete with and then dominate his peers. The bike gave him identity. It gave him recognition. It gave his fans the hope that there is someone out there scoring points for the scrawny, runts of the world.


When, in the end, it was all taken away from him through his own doings or the machinations of others, he lost his identity. The bike gave Pantani a life, but because he could not cultivate one outside of the sport, he gave his away to depression and possibly drugs. And THAT is the tragedy. He gave hope to the underdogs of the world, but in the end, he saved none for himself.

Morgan Andriulli

Huntsville, Alabama

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Text of Pantani's Notes


The following is a look into the heart of Marco Pantani. These notes were written by Il Pirata sometime in the recent past, found on blank pages of his passport, and were read at Pantani's funeral yesterday by long time friend and former manager Manuela Ronchi.


"For four years I was in every court. I lost the desire to be like every other sportsman. But cycling paid and many youngsters have lost faith in justice. I'm suffering with this letter.


"The world understands that all my colleagues have been humiliated in their hotel rooms with hidden TV cameras, that tried to ruin many families. After that how can you not hurt yourself?


"I don't know why I stopped myself in these moments of anger if I made mistakes I'd like to know that there is proof but when my sporting life and above all my private life was violated I lost a lot.


"I'm in this country and I want to say that "hasta la victoria" is a great thing for an athlete but it is more difficult having given your heart for the sport with accidents and injuries. But I always got back up.


"What is left? Just a lot of anger and sadness for the violence of the judicial system. My true story should be an example for other sports. Rules yes, but equal for everybody.


"There's not a job where you have to give your blood and where the families of your colleagues are woken up during the night.


"I was always afraid of being spied on at home, in hotels and by TV cameras. I ended up hurting myself to not give up my intimacy, the intimacy of my girlfriend and of other colleagues who also lost, of other families who like me were attacked.


"Go and see what a cyclist is really like. How many people were involved in my sadness as I tried to make a comeback with my dreams as a man which were muddied by drugs, but after my life as an athlete.


"If a bit of humanity helps us understand and asks what makes us hope, when you make a real mistake you understand and you fight with your heart.


"This document is the truth. My hope is that real men or women can read it and defend equal rules in sport for everybody. I'm not a liar, I feel hurt and everybody who believed in me has to speak out."




-----> There's plenty to read about it on http://www.dailypeleton.com

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A world class athlete, no doubt. Sad story. Why would Armstrong later admit to regretting that he let Pantani win that stretch of the Tour?


btw, what does insulin in a syringe do for performance, exactly?

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