Mystery still seems to surround the Pantani “saga” as new allegations made by the Italian gangster Renato Vallanzasca revealed that Pantani might have been victim of a plot driven by betting.

According to the criminal who terrorised the streets Milan in the 1970’s and that now is serving four life sentences; because there were so many bets on Pantani in the illegal world of betting, it was decided at the time that it was better to get rid of him, if not the people running the betting would have lost too much money. Vallanzasca obtained these informations through a fellow convict; he refuses to reveal his name.

These revelations have raised new doubts on the exclusion from the 1999 Giro D’Italia of Marco Pantani, after his haematocrit level of 52 were found to be higher than the ones permitted by the UCI, which stood at 50. 

As a matter of fact La Gazzetta dello Sport raised a few questions regarding that test: “The unordinary values of the haematocrit (51,9) was the real result [of the test] or an external factor (in good or in bad faith) modified it?” -and- “Who had an interest in ripping off Pantani and why?”.

The sports newspapers though acknowledges the fact that since there are no eyewitnesses of what might have happened that day to damage the “Pirate”, these are only suspicions, and for now are destined to remain as such.

In an article on the Gazzetta it is brought up that the result of the test could have been challenged via legal action because the doctors who took the tests violated the Olympic Committee’s protocol: “ The test tube containing Pantani’s blood was randomly chosen by the doctor. It couldn’t and cannot be done: it is the athlete who was to choose the test tube because it must be above any suspicion” writes Francesco Ceniti.

What is the biggest inexplicable factor of that day in Madonna di Campiglio remains the fact that the night before being tested (and then extroverted from the Giro) Pantani’s haematocrit levels stood at 48, as confirmed by the ‘Mercatone Uno’ team doctor at the time Roberto Rempi on an Italian television programme. 

The next day, Marco’s level were at 52. Doctor Rempi though showed a graphic with all the team members’ haematocrit levels after the UCI doctors tested them, and only Pantani’s results had such anomalous values that couldn’t be justified solely by the haematocrit levels.

Heading back home that day Pantani then stopped in the town of Imola for a second test. This time though his levels were found being at 48, just like the night before. And even Professor Tura who was an aide to the prosecutor of Trento in Pantani’s investigation considers these fluctuating results very strange.  

Hypothetically it is thought that the test tube containing Pantani’s blood was heated (either accidentally or on purpose) to raise his haematocrit levels and to get him out of the Giro. Anyhow this mystery obsessed the “Pirate” until his death.

Image: Wikipedia commons