The death of Italian cycling legend Marco Pantani on a February day in 2004 was a very dark day for the sport. He was quintessentially one of the best climbers of the late 1990s and early 2000s, his pinnacle coming in 1998 with a duo win at the Giro D’Italia and the Tour De France. To this day he remains the last rider to achieve that feat. Like all riders in that era, he wasn’t completely without reproach. Doping was prevalent in the peloton in that period so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise that he tested positive for EPO ,a banned substance, in 1999. The arms race like competition for the best dope in those days was something out of this world. Doctors and scientist came up with better and more efficient methods of boosting performances albeit illegally all the time back then. Some riders went as far as getting transfusions of red blood cells before races to boost performances. Pantani had higher than normal red blood cells in his system stemming from the EPO.
Like the likes of Jan Ullrich, Floyd Landis he didn’t handle getting banned from the sport he loves so much very well and fell into a depression. Once he did he spiraled into drug addiction notably cocaine dependency. On the day of his death he was found in his hotel room in his native Italy following which the coroner deemed cocaine poisoning after a mix of anti-depressant drugs and cocaine. More specifically, heart failure was the cause. Now, recently Marco’s mom Tonina has hired lawyers to force a new investigation into his death apparently not satisfied with the cause of his death. New evidence she brought forward indicates that the ball of cocaine found with Marco may have been planted. There was also money missing from his room which doesn’t rule out robbery as a motive for murder. Cuts and bruises on Marco’s arms tell another story too. A struggle maybe? Good luck getting answers from the drug dealer. The guy won’t give answers because well he has a lot to lose.
Like most similar cases, intervention was seriously lacking when Marco needed it the most. Take this , Marco’s ex girlfriend said afterwards that he had confided in him that he was addicted to cocaine but she never helped or acted to get him the help. It is sad that Marco died alone having isolated himself. One cruel thing you can do to an addict is to ignore them even if they don’t like the attention. As for Tonina, the new evidence could be something and also it could be nothing. The question is, is it murder to provide drugs that ultimately kill an addict for which they voluntarily take? The law says no clearly seeing that the drug dealer got acquitted. The issue now left to determine is whether heart failure could have been caused by violence which in turn turns to homicide. I doubt the answers will come out for Tonina especially given that this is now the third investigation. Maybe moving on and cherishing Marco’s memory is the best course of action.