Cipollini denies he doped to win 2002 world title

MILAN (AP) — Retired Italian cyclist and sprinting standout Mario Cipollini has denied as “unfounded and absurd” a news media report linking him to the doctor at the center of the Operation Puerto blood-doping case.

The Gazzetta dello Sport printed a long front-page report Saturday, including training prescriptions from Dr. Eufemanio Fuentes the paper said showed Cipollini used an assortment of doping methods in 2002, the year he won his world championship title in Zolder, Belgium.

Gazzetta said the tables prove Cipollini relied on blood transfusions, steroids and EPO for the biggest win of his career. The report said Cipollini was identified in code as “Maria” in Fuentes’ notebooks.

In a statement carried by the ANSA news agency, Cipollini’s lawyer, Giuseppe Napoleone, said the cyclist “categorically denies the unfounded and absurd accusations.”

He said Cipollini, 45, had offered to provide further evidence to anti-doping authorities and warned of legal action against the newspaper.

Napoleone said the purported fax number on the back of the tables, which Gazzetta used to identify Cipollini as the patient in question, didn’t belong to Cipollini. And he noted other media have reported the cyclist had other code names, including “Pavarotti” or “CP.”

“So at this point the pseudonyms attributed to the athlete would be three,” he noted sarcastically.

Fuentes is among five defendants, charged with endangering public health, who are on trial in Madrid.

Cipollini was one of the greatest sprinters in the history of the sport.

In 2003, he surpassed Alfredo Binda’s 70-year-old record for the most stage victories in the Giro d’Italia with 42. He also won 12 stages at the Tour de France.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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