Saeco’s Eddy Mazzoleni has been suspended as part of the ‘oil fo drugs’ inquiry in Italy.
Within twenty-four hours of leaked telephone recordings uncovering some of the evidence which has led to Eddy Mazzoleni’s implication in the Rome-based “Oil for Drugs” enquiry, the 29-year-old from Bergamo, Italy, has been suspended by the Saeco team. Saeco manager Claudio Corti has stressed that the action against Mazzoleni is a temporary measure: “Before we take any definitive decision, we have to look much closer at the situation to understand what’s going on,” he said. “It’s very clear from Saeco’s point of view: should any involvement come to light and become part of the magistrate’s investigation, there will be severe consequences for the parties involved. But for now, the only proof is a newspaper article.” Corti’s doubts about the sources cited by Le Monde which suggest that Mazzoleni had acquired and used EPO will prompt some to ask why the rider is being suspended. Guilty or not, it now looks highly likely that the ace domestique will lose his place in Saeco’s Tour team. Speculation has been rife that allegations of Mazzoleni’s misdemeanours – which centre on his dealings with Doctor Carlo Santuccione – could even cost Saeco their starting berth at the Tour. “I haven’t heard from [Jean-Marie] Leblanc, and I don’t see why I should call him. Our team has no problems,” a defiant Corti reacted yesterday. This morning, Mazzoleni’s lawyer, Alessandro Pistochini, condemned the “manner in which my client has been informed of the supposed elements incriminating him, and the haste with which the evidence has been released into the public domain”. Pistochini considered it “particularly significant” that a French newspaper had been keen to publish the telephone transcripts just two weeks before the start of the Tour de France. The implication is clearly that the French press is leading an orchestrated campaign to have Italian riders and teams excluded from the Grande Boucle. Pistochini concluded by expressing his hope that Mazzoleni will still participate in the Tour. He assured that his client “will be able to provide the necessary explanations to remove all suspicions about him via the appropriate legal channels”. Neither Danilo di Luca nor Alessandro Spezialetti, both of Saeco and also among Santuccione’s patients, have been suspended.