Report: Giro d’Italia chief Michele Acquarone fired by RCS Sport after two month suspension
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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Report: Giro d’Italia chief Michele Acquarone fired by RCS Sport after two month suspension

by Shane Stokes at 8:51 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Giro d'Italia
 
Company’s former CEO Catano also reported as being released after fraud investigation

Michele AcquaroneTwo months after he was given what was said to have been a ‘precautionary suspension’ by Giro d’Italia organisers RCS Sport, former race director Michele Acquarone has reportedly been fired by that company.

The news has been reported by La Presse, with the former CEO Giacomo Catano also said to have been released. No reason has yet been given.

In early October the Italian was sidelined from his position as head of the Giro d’Italia and the COO of RCS Sport, and issued a long statement on the 11th of that month asserting his innocence and vowing to return.

He and Catano were given the suspensions after RCS Sport said that a possible misappropriation of thirteen million euro had been was detected.

It set up an audit at the time and said that it would do what it could to determine what had happened and who was responsible. Outside experts were called in to coordinate the enquiry.

The administrative director Laura Bertinotti quit her role and another RCS employee, media relations director Matteo Pastore, was also suspended.

The turmoil also saw the chairman Flavio Biondi replaced by Raimondo Zanaboni, who headlined the presentation of the Giro d’Italia route on October 7th.

Acquarone asserted his innocence in his October statement, saying that he was confident that he would be back in his role soon.

“Those who know me, are well aware that my professional style is based on three key concepts: fairness, respect and dialogue,” he wrote then.

“Those who know me, also know that I hold the trust of fans and of people involved in the industry, at the centre of my heart, and if today I can benefit from such trust, it is because I have always worked with greatest transparency and honesty, as well as with total dedication and loyalty to the RCS Group.”

He said that he had nothing to fear from the investigation, and that people could trust in him that he was not involved in what had happened.

“For the ties linking me to Giro fans and to the people involved in the industry, I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days” he continued.

“Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified.” He added that he was looking forward to returning and resuming his work in setting up the 2014 Giro d’Italia.

Acquarone had spoken recently of his frustration in his ongoing suspension, saying that nobody from RCS Sport had been in contact with him over the matter. Amid suggestions in recent days that Paolo Bellino could step into his role, Acquarone called a media meeting for this week to give his side of the story.

That had been due to take place on Thursday at noon in the Circolo della Stampa in Milan, but today’s news pre-empts that by two days.

Acquarone had been working with the RCS Group for fourteen years in total, and RCS Sport itself for the past five. He took over from former Giro d’Italia chief Angelo Zomegnan after the 2011 race.

Liked by teams, riders and fans, he had been seen as someone who had done a lot to modernise the Giro d’Italia, both making the race more humane and less reliant on gruelling transfers. He also worked hard to utilise social media and other promotional aspects to raise the profile of the race and to narrow the gap between it and the Tour de France.

He was in the role for just two years, but in that time the event increased its status significantly.

Further details will be reported when they are available.

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