Marco Pantani wasn't murdered
Italy's supreme Court of Cassation said cycling great Marco Pantani was not murdered, rejecting a final appeal from his family
Pantani died on Saint Valentine's Day 2004 after voluntarily taking a mix of anti-depressant drugs and cocaine, the court said, confirming previous verdicts.
The ruling contrasted with murder theories propounded in a petition presented to authorities by a lawyer acting for Pantani's family which led to the investigation being re-opened into the death of the dual winner of the 1998 Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France.
Pantani, who died at the age of 34, was widely considered one of the best climbers of his era.
He won both the Tour de France and the Giro d'Italia in 1998, being the sixth Italian after Ottavio Bottecchia, Gino Bartali, Fausto Coppi, Felice Gimondi and Gastone Nencini to win the Tour de France. He is the last cyclist, and one of only seven, to win the Giro and the Tour in the same year.
Pantani's attacking style and aggressive riding turned him into a fan favorite in the late 1990s. He was known as "Il Pirata" ("The pirate") because of his shaved head and the bandana and earrings he always wore.
At 1.72 m and 57 kg, he had the classic build for a mountain climber.
His style contrasted with that of time-trialling experts such as the five-times Tour winner Miguel Indurain. Although Pantani never tested positive during his career, his career was beset by doping allegations. In the 1999 Giro d'Italia, he was expelled due to his irregular blood values. Although he was disqualified for "health reasons," it was implied that Pantani's high haematocrit was the product of EPO use.
Following later accusations, Pantani went into a depression from which he never fully recovered. He died of acute cocaine poisoning in 2004.