Trial date is set for Pantani

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The Independent Online

The trial of the Italian Marco Pantani on charges of sporting fraud will open in Forli on 13 October, two days before the road race stage of the World Championships in France.

The trial of the Italian Marco Pantani on charges of sporting fraud will open in Forli on 13 October, two days before the road race stage of the World Championships in France.

Pantani, Italy's most popular cyclist and the winner of the Tour of France and Giro d'Italia in 1998, will be tried on allegations he used banned substances in a 1995 race.

According to the prosecution, Pantani's red-blood cell count tested well above the legal 50 per cent levels when he was hospitalised following an accident in the Milan-Turin race.

Judges in Forli yesterday announced the date for the opening hearing of the trial which may jeopardise Pantani's racing activity in that period. The Italian returned to action in the Giro d'Italia last month following a self-imposed one-year layoff. He will start the Tour of France on Saturday.

Pantani's lawyers claimed the trial will show a weakness of the charges from a judicial and scientific point of view.

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