The public prosecutor in the domestic violence and stalking case involving former World Champion and multiple Grand Tour stage winner Mario Cipollini has asked for a two-and-a-half year prison sentence for the Italian.
Cipollini is currently in court facing charges of domestic abuse, stalking and threats to his ex-wife’s partner after a series of incidents in 2016 and 2017. He has repeatedly asserted his innocence of all charges.
However, the public prosecutor of Lucca, Letizia Cai, has said that Cipollini should face a two-year prison sentence for threats and domestic abuse to his ex-wife, Sabrina Landucci, and six months for threats to her new partner, former footballer Silvio Giusti.
In the initial request for indictment dating from March 2019, another prosecutor in the case claimed that Cipollini physically assaulted Landucci “with punches, slaps, kicks, with injuries and death threats.”
In the request for indictment, it is alleged that Cipollini repeatedly threatened Landucci, and on January 6, 2017, assaulted her at a sports centre where she works.
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“I was working like every day in the sports centre when Mario assaulted me in front of colleagues and clients,” said Landucci, who filed the complaint. “He grabbed my neck and then banged my head against the wall. I had injuries, I had to go to the emergency room. But more than the wounds, what hurts me was that the gesture was so violent. Even today I’m upset.”
Domestic abuse cases are punishable by jail terms of between two to six years in Italy and up to four years for communicating threats. Cipollini’s former wife is also reportedly seeking €80,000 in damages. The couple married in 1993 and had two daughters, but divorced in 2005, shortly after Cipollini had ended his career.
In the 1990s, Cipollini brightened up the sport with his colourful personality and outrageous style, racking up 170 professional victories including the 2002 World Championships and breaking the record for most Giro d’Italia stage victories with 42.
However, his gregariousness had a darker side, and he was ejected from the 2000 Vuelta a España for punching Spaniard Francisco Cerezo in the face, an act for which he later reportedly apologised. Despite being known as the ‘patron’ of the peloton, commanding the bunch to ease its pace and squelching attacks, his teammate and contemporaries described incidents in which Cipollini acted more like a bully.
His legacy came under intense scrutiny, however, following the Operacion Puerto scandal, in which he was accused of being among the clients of Eufemiano Fuentes, charges which he continues to deny. He was never sanctioned for doping, but retroactive testing from the 1998 Tour de France identified Cipollini’s samples as being positive for EPO.
In 2019, Cipollini revealed he was suffering from a serious heart condition, undergoing heart surgery for five hours in late October to treat a myocardial bridge – a condition where the heart muscle grows around the coronary artery and constricts blood flow.
The next hearing in the case will be on July 13, when Cipollini’s lawyers will present their client’s defence.