Cipollini to shun the Pope?

Purported Catholic Mario Cipollini may have some explaining to do at his next confession: Ivano Fan

Purported Catholic Mario Cipollini may have some explaining to do at his next confession: Ivano Fan
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE One of cycling's most colourful and controversial team managers, Ivano Fanini of the lowly Amore e Vita team, is claiming that Mario Cipollini has broken a long-standing agreement with him by signing for Liquigas. Fanini, a near outcast in Italian cycling largely by virtue of his uncompromising views on doping, claims that Cipollini made a pact to finish his career with Fanini when he turned pro in 1989. Fanini welcomes Cipollini's move to Pro Tour outfit Liquigas-Bianchi - on the condition that the Lion King coughs up the 600 000 euros in compensation which Fanini believes he is owed. "I'm pleased that Mario is going to ride another year," said Fanini, who, like Cipollini, hails from Lucca in Tuscany. "But I would like to remind him that he once made an agreement to finish his career with Amore e Vita. At 38 years of age [Cipollini celebrates his 38th birthday in March - Ed.], I still think that he has something to give, providing he stops behaving like a performing artist. I think that Mario can carry on riding until he's 40, which means that he will be able to honour his pact with me. But I don't want a leisure cyclist: I hope that the solution he has found will calm him down a little. But I want to remind him that, if he doesn't respect out agreement, he'll have to pay damages of 600 000 euros." Fanini caused an outrage in January 2003 when he directly linked the death of Fassa Bortolo rider Denis Zanette with the culture of doping in cycling. The Amore e Vita supremo called dope tests "a farce". The outburst was roundly condemned, notably by UCI president Hein Verbruggen and Lance Armstrong. Amore e Vita is the Vatcian-sponsored outfit perhaps most famous for its annual team launches, topped off with papal blessings for all of the riders. Earlier in the year, Fanini pulled off a publicity coup by signing Spanish whistleblower Jesus Manzano. He has also offered Britain's David Millar the chance to rebuild his career at Amore e Vita at the end of his two-year doping ban.
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