Filippo Magnini Doping Ban: CAS Sets Appeal Date After Porcellini Jailing

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Filippo Magnini - Photo Courtesy: Head

Filippo Magnini Doping Ban – CAS Appeal To Be Heard In November

Filippo Magnini, the 2005 and 2007 World 100m freestyle champion, will appear before the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne on November 4 to challenge a four-year ban.

The suspension, under 2.2 of the World Anti-Doping (WADA) Code, “use or attempted use of doping”, was imposed following an investigation by NADO Italia (Organizzazione Nazionale Antidoping) and Procura Nazionale Antidoping (PNA), Italy’s two anti-doping authorities. The decision was taken in November 2018 and came after the swimmer had retired from racing a year before that.

Magnini’s penalty – same reason and duration – was also served on ex-Italian-relay teammate Michele Santucci.

An appeal by Magnini in Italy was lost in May this year but Santucci won his case and the suspension was dropped.

Magnini then escalated his own challenge to the original ruling and the domestic appeal decision and that case will now be heard by the CAS in Lausanne on November 4 as CAS case “2019/A/6307 Filippo Magnini v. NADO Italia (Organizzazione Nazionale Antidoping) – Procura Nazionale Antidoping (PNA)”.

Italian anti-doping prosecutors had sought an eight-year term for “actual or attempted doping” in a case linked to nutritionist Guido Porcellini, who was given a 30-year ban in July 2018 for anti-doping violations and in July this year was jailed for 18 months ing criminal proceedings related to the reasons why he was banned from sport.

‘Ridiculous’ Ruling

Magnini has never tested positive for a banned substance, has been a vocal anti-doping campaigner and has denied the charges against him. He told Gazzetta dello Sport at the time of his suspension:

“I haven’t done anything, this sentence is ridiculous. It’s a trial of intentions and I could never have imagined something like this.”

His suspension stemmed from “implicated” involvement with Porcellini, the disgraced doctor whose paperwork showed that he intended to send certain products to the swimmer.

Prosecutors pointed to order papers for vitamins, creatine and mineral salts, all with the term “plus” added to the the package in which they were delivered.

Investigators conceded that Magnini might not have used or even received the products or package from Porcellini but determined there was enough evidence to ban him.

In response to the verdict, Magnini said: “This sentence has had my name on it for a long time, that’s why I’m feeling such anger. There is no proof.”

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Brent Hayden, right, and Filippo Magnini – shared world-title gold in 2007 Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

The 37-year-old Magnini, won claimed the world 100m crown alone in 2005 and shared in 2007 with Canadian Brent Hayden, still the national record holder over the distance in both short- and long-course pools, retired in 2017 after a long an illustrious career.

That included 4×200 freestyle relay bronze at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and 21 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze medals in international waters for Italy, including European long- and short-course crowns over 100m and 200m freestyle 2004 and 2007.

In pure performance terms, Magnini, while world-class long after his heyday at the helm of sprinters, had not been a leading force in the fast lane of 100m racing for several years towards the back end of a career that mellowed into a decisive contribution to his nation’s relay force.

Feeling like “The Plague”

Ten days after his suspension, Magnini spoke to La Repubblica and said: “For too long now I feel like the plague, I keep my eyes down, when they ask me to pose for a photograph I think they didn’t know what happened to me. I know about not having done anything wrong, I don’t deserve all this and I’m here to prove it.”

In the presence of his parents and his partner Giorgia Palmas, he added:

“Since [the decision] I have been struggling to sleep. These were the two worst years of my life. I suffer I and my family suffer – I have to say thank you to them [for supporting him].”

Magnini accused opposition lawyers for “putting pressure” witnesses in the proceedings against him, “suggesting they accuse me and use a false document for this purpose”.

He showed the newspaper packets of supplements and noted that they were “perfectly legal”.

Anti-doping authorities claim instead that he tried to procure forbidden precursors of somatotropin, the growth hormone that Porcellini supplied to athletes according to prosecutors who argued their case successfully.

The “nutrition expert” was also reported to have had Magnini’s former girlfriend and teammate Federica Pellegrini, the four-times World 200m freestyle champion, on his client list. There has been no implication of wrongdoing levelled at Pellegrini.

Magnini remains “baffled”, noting: “The ordinary prosecutor’s office in Pesaro opened a proceeding, without finding any violation on my part.

“The prosecutors listened to what I was saying and followed me for eight months, concluding that I had done nothing. It’s not clear how sports justice, using the same data, could have reached such different conclusions. I’m not a pedophile or a criminal, but they treated me as such.”

On the decision that freed his teammate, Santucci, Magnini told La Repubblica:

“I’m happy for Michele, but the condemnation of me [the case against me] prevents me keeps me from speaking full truth: we didn’t do anything, neither he nor I. Not a single vial or package of illegal substances was found that was destined for us … there was nothing more than legal supplements “.

Porcellini was served 18 months jail term in a Pesaro court in July this year. Magnini’s relationship with him (one the swimmer does not deny, while rejecting the allegation of any involvement with banned substances) is still to face its final test.

Says Magnini, pointing to his anti-doping campaigning: “I will not stop fighting … perhaps my role against doping has bothered someone. Sport judges have turned me away from swimming, which is my world, based on assumptions and without taking the facts into account. Swimmers all over the world have expressed solidarity … but CONI (the Italian Olympic Committee) did not do so and that hurts.”

1 comment

  1. avatar
    Auckland

    And why has there “been no implication of wrongdoing levelled at Pellegrini”? Was she questioned or even investigated? With Magnini at or close to retirement at the time of the alleged issue and Pellegrini going strong, isn’t it a bit suspicious or worthy of a look given that Pellegrini lived with Magnini for nearly a decade? Fall guy who later gets vindicated?