Bellino takes over as RCS Sport general manager, Giro d’Italia organisers rebuilding after Catano and Acquarone dismissals
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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bellino takes over as RCS Sport general manager, Giro d’Italia organisers rebuilding after Catano and Acquarone dismissals

by Shane Stokes at 6:53 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
New appointment as fraud investigation continues

Giro dFollowing the upheavals within RCS Sport which saw the company’s COO and Giro d’Italia chief Michele Acquarone plus the RCS Sport CEO Giacomo Catano both dropped from their positions, the Italian company has today announced the first of the appointments to rebuild the structure.

RCS Sport has named 43 year old Paolo Bellino as its new general manager, starting January 13th 2014. The Turin-born Italian is a former track and field 400 metre runner and holds a degree in international political science. He was part of the organising committed of the Turin Winter Olympic Games in 2006 and since 2010 has been operations consultant for the IOC.

His recent experience has seen him work as Operations Director of the World Masters Games in Turin 2013 and the general secretary of the Italian track and field federation.

According to RCS Sport, he will work alongside RCS Sport Chairman Raimondo Zanaboni and CEO Riccardo Taranto “with the goal of reinforcing company activities and further increasing its international development.”

RCS Sport is a subsidiary of the company RCS MediaGroup. It owns the Giro d’Italia plus three other UCI WorldTour events, namely Tirreno-Adriatico, Milan Sanremo and Il Lombardia, plus the European Tour events Strade Bianche, Roma Maxima, Gran Piemonte and Milan-Torino. It also organises the new Dubai Tour race.

Outside cycling, it works in the field of football and basketball and also owns the IAAF Milan City Marathon.

Acquarone became the head of the Giro d’Italia in 2011, replacing Angelo Zomegnan. He is recognised as having transformed the race, helping it gain a much larger social media presence and reputation, and to reduce some of the gap between it and the Tour de France.

However in early October the Italian was sidelined from his position as head of the Giro d’Italia and the COO of RCS Sport, as was RCS CEO Giacomo Catano. The precautionary suspensions were handed down after RCS Sport said that a possible misappropriation of thirteen million euro had been 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.

On December 3rd Italian media reported that Acquarone and Catano had been fired from the company. RCS Sport has not yet announced a conclusion about the alleged fraud, and it is unclear if either of the two were directly involved or simply failed to spot what was happening.

On December 5th Acquarone called a press conference and said that he would take legal action over his dismissal.

“This make the damage caused to my image and my reputation even more clear and serious, by combining my name to the alleged multimillionaire shortage found out in RCS,” he stated then, reading out a prepared statement to the assembled media.

“Everyone knows that I have always worked with the greatest effort and with good results and, in the years of my direction, RCS Sport has gained prestige and consideration in the sporting community in Italy and abroad.

“Therefore, I really do not know the reasons for which RCS wanted to find in me the scapegoat for a situation that has now become extremely delicate and serious, how the persisting deafening silence of the Group suggests.”

He said that his name would ultimately be cleared via the criminal investigation which is underway and also the labour lawsuit he has launched to prove what he said was his non-involvement in the fraud.


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