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News Roundup: 13 January 2003 Special Edition
By Janna Trevisanut
Date: 1/13/2003
News Roundup: 13 January 2003 Special Edition

Denis Zanette - Reactions and praise, investigation and speculation; untimely comments draw fire

The Fassa Bortolo team, which had scheduled its team presentation for the 18th of this month, has confirmed that the presentation will occur as planned, and that the team will take that opportunity to remember Denis Zanette:

"Denis formed part of the team Fassa Bortolo since the year 2002 and was immediately appreciated for all his great human qualities: the kindness and humility, the fidelity and devotion to his team and its leader. Saturday will be an occasion for us to express, with his family, our great sadness."

In Pieri in the northeastern region of Friuli-Venice Giulia, Italy, yesterday, a moment of silence was observed for fallen rider Denis Zanette during a ceremony to award the region's cyclists. President of the Italian Cycling Federation, Giancarlo Feruti, said that Zanette "was a polite person, correct, of big style and always smiling, who leaves a void in national bicycling, but especially for those who have known him. He brought lots of great excitement to cycling, with his stage victories, a pair of stage wins in the Giro and other important finishes."

Officials in Pordenone, Italy, began investigating the untimely death of 32-year old Denis Zanette this weekend, and have tentatively scheduled toxicological testing and autopsy for tomorrow. They have also stated that they want to determine if dopage played any part in the rider's death; to this end the Zanette home was searched this weekend over the protest of the Zanette family.

Further, Padua prosecutor Paola Cameran, who is proceeding with a broad range of doping investigations (and who also questioned UCI President Hein Verbruggen at length in a public forum in Italy last year), has asked the Pordenone investigator for a copy of the forensic results. Cameran has stated that many dozens of riders have been implicated by secretly gathered evidence (video surveillance) in investigations conducted over several years in Italy, and that trials will commence this spring. We decline to repeat the names of these riders. There have also been various speculations by the press this weekend suggesting that Zanette's death was doping-related, and neither will they be repeated here.

Davide Rebellin, who has spoken so lovingly of his close friend Zanette, with whom he was a teammate for three years, now strikes out at the press for this. Rebellin says: I am disgusted because it is not possible the newspapers would treat his death in this way. Enough with the suspicions. Denis' father and grandfather also died young - does this mean they doped too?  Me, I only know he was a wonderful person. I am convinced that doping had nothing to do with this misfortune."

"His family has been overwhelmed by all these reports that speak of doping, and I am personally very disappointed. It is not possible that the death of a person so young would be treated in this way. I hope the results of the autopsy give some acceptable explanations." 

Carlo Zanette, Denis' brother, has stated that Denis was healthy - "He underwent monthly examinations, the last before Christmas. I cannot figure out what happened."

Francesco Casagrande, Zanette's captain in the Fassa Bortolo team, said, "He was my roommate for the entire Vuelta. His death does not scare me, but I hope it is an explainable thing, like a cardiac arrest.."

"But how can it happen that an athlete who is under continuous medical care dies unexpectedly? I don't know; I am not a physician. But this also happens to young soccer players, who die on the field suddenly. However, I try not to think about this. A friend and a father who leaves two children has died. Only one who has children can understand."

Amore e Vita owner Ivano Fanini also wasted no time to use Zannete's death as a platform for his long-held anti-dopage views on Saturday, and his comments are here.

Lance Armstrong, speaking to the French publication Le Figaro, had choice words for Fanini: "It is not the moment to attack furiously in this way.  I think above all of the family of Zanette and their pain. Is it really the moment to attack in this way? His lack of decency shocks me. In every way, to die so young is a tragedy."

UCI President Hein Verbruggen went a step further - "If Fanini is really convinced of what he has said, he must accept the consequences and leave bicycling. It is difficult to hear declarations so stupid - and it's very sad that there are people of this kind in our sport. I don't understand why Fanini is included in bicycling. However, what he has just said does not surprise me. It is in line with a character I know well. I don't understand how things like this could be said just hours after the death of a man."

Sources: Kataweb Sports, Cicloweb, Veloclub, Radsport and

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