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Mapei in football - cause for concern?

Aug 12, 2016
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Hey there, long time lurker here. Firstly I would just like to say thank you for all the interesting discussion you guys have on here, it's very interesting.

As people who are big fans of cycling and who have watched for many years, I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts on the nature of Mapei (cycling team, sports centre, "cleanness," etc.) I understand that they have a reputation for being clean, and have been home to some of the most vocal anti-dopers in cycling, namely A.Sassi and Squinzi.

I know a bit about their successful teams of the 90s, and Sassi's involvement with Moser, and most of his career up to the point of his death, including the fiasco involving Ricco (is there more to this story?) I'm also familiar with the ARD story which implied systematic doping on behalf of Mapei (is this accepted as fact?)

Now, it has been floating around the internet over the past year or so that Leicester City have been working with Mapei. Although everyone is linking to an Italian article called "Mapei: the secret of Ranieri's success" (or something like that,"

..Which makes me wonder, given all the reporting on the topic of how Leicester had achieved so greatly, including stories ranging in plausibility from cryotherapy, skilled backroom staff, all the way to pizza and buddhist monks, why has the involvement of the Mapei sports centre received absolutely no mention at all? Even if you forget possible doping, it seems a reasonable line of enquiry.... Are the media just too busy waiting for a story about a gluten intolerance to do any real research?

Anyway, Squinzi also tells us about other football teams who they have been affiliated with. Circa 2012 they began working with Juventus and Monaco, along with their affiliation with Sassuolo (owned by Squinzi.) Juventus have obviously been hugely sucessful, with landmarks such as an unbeaten season, record Serie A points tally, and multiple consecutive titles. Monaco, co-incidentally under Ranieri, won the second division in France and then finished 2nd in their first season in the top division. It should be said that they did also have a lot of money supporting them. Sassuolo have risen multiple divisions in a very short space of time and will compete in European competition for the first time this season.

Prior to this, Mapei were working with Chelsea. Again the source of this information was from Squinzi, although he offered no information as to what the relationship actually was. http://www.velonation.com/News/ID/6740/Giorgio-Squinzi-remembers-Aldo-Sassi-clean-cycling-and-winning.aspx


Roberto Sassi, who is Aldo Sassi's brother. While Aldo remained in cycling, Roberto moved into football with Fiorentina in 1993 until 1997. Ranieri was manager there during this time. R.Sassi then went to Valencia (97-99,) Atletico (99-00,) Chelsea (00-04) and then Valencia (04-05.) Ranieri was the manager at all of these clubs as well, obviously enjoying a good working relationship with R.Sassi. When Ranieri leaves Valencia and becomes unemployed for a number of years, R.Sassi then joins Juventus in 2011 just as their affiliation with Mapei begins. He has been there ever since.

Andrea Azzalin who is the current head of fitness at Leicester. He began his career at the Mapei Sports Centre as a researcher. He then joined Monaco (12-14), Greece ('14) and then Leicester since 2015. Obviously all of these clubs were managed by Ranieri as well.

So back to my original question - as cycling fans, do you think that this is something to be concerned about? My gut feeling overall is one of nervousness. The cynical side of me thinks that any situation involving both Juventus and Cycling is almost certain to be dirty. On the other hand, if Mapei have been doping then they have been doing an incredible job of hiding it, and I wouldn't want to kill A.Sassi for a third time(!)

Genuinely interested in any thoughts or information about this, thanks a lot.
 
Oct 16, 2010
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agreed. Good OP with some salient pieces of info.

the problem with doping in soccer is that it's so hopeless, most simply don't bother.

Soccer needs a major scandal, e.g. by means of a leak, or a group of whistleblowers, for the topic of doping to become 'salonfahig'.
Before that happens, the vast majority of fans will shrug their sholders.

Fuentes/Puerto had the potential to be that scandal, but we all know what happened there.
The governing powers in soccer are so powerful and have so much money, they can shove anything under the carpet and make anything disappear.
 
Aug 2, 2012
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sniper said:
the problem with doping in soccer is that it's so hopeless, most simply don't bother.
the problem in soccer is that fans don't care....as long as their team wins

leicester wonderful against the odds success story......always looked 'too good...

to be true................'

Mark L
 
Jul 20, 2016
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there's even quite a few clues regarding Ranieri's success, including Leicester players, when asked to explain their success, mention "a few italian tricks" the coach taught us..
 
Oct 16, 2010
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And recall some Leicester players being named as clients of Dr. Bonar.

To the OP:
- no. Mapei does not have a clean reputation.
- Sassi may have sounded antidoping at times, but there is little doubt that his riders doped and that Sassi facilitated it.

Question: why are you nervous and/or concerned?
There is no doubt Leicester are doped to the gills, like any other premier league team. The interesting part is that an Italian programme is getting the better of local English programs, despite the wealth of the premier league. Id pay to know what it is they are having that other PL teams aren't.
 
Oct 16, 2010
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Btw, one main reason why in throughout the 2000s Australian, British and othwr european teams settled in Tuscany is in order to be close to the Mapei centr and Sassi.
 
Sep 8, 2015
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Re:

sniper said:
The interesting part is that an Italian programme is getting the better of local English programs, despite the wealth of the premier league.
why assume the programs are English? The PL is effectively now not an English league, but an international league that happens to be based in England. It follows that if there are programs, they'd be picked from international sources as well. It'd be logical to assume the nationality of the manager / coach would be the deciding factor.
 
May 31, 2011
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It's worth remembering that an English manager has never won the Premier League.

Leicester today looked like they were doing a Wiggins. Should be considered contenders for the 2019 League Cup.
 
Sep 8, 2009
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Aldo sassi was always against reckless doping but not against 'rebalancing of values'. See ivan basso blood values from his liquigas days.
 
Aug 12, 2016
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Re:

sniper said:
And recall some Leicester players being named as clients of Dr. Bonar.
Another thing here is that the fitness coach Rob Brinded who claimed to have worked extensively with Bonar also claimed to know that the majority of Chelsea's first team were on steroids while he was at the club. Unsurprisingly this time also coincides with Ranieri's reign with Mapei.

Along similar lines, the clubs mentioned by the Times (Arsenal, Chelsea, Leicester and Birmingham) makes it quite easy to come up with a group of players who could possibly fit the bill. Gudjohnsen, Forssel, Melchiot, Gronjkaer, Huth, and Cech for example. The inclusion of Birmingham especially points to this era and these players. Again, this is Ranieri's time at the club, along with Mapei.

Also notable is the huge influx of players to Chelsea from Italy at this time, many of whom had played for clubs with known doping regimes such as Parma and Juventus.

My suggestion would be that Ranieri's Chelsea, as Mapei's first venture into football, was an inexact science that left players vulnerable to drug test failure, hence the constant tinkering. A decade later they have refined their methods, and Ranieri's Leicester is the pinnacle of this.

To the OP:
- no. Mapei does not have a clean reputation.
- Sassi may have sounded antidoping at times, but there is little doubt that his riders doped and that Sassi facilitated it.
I'm trying to distinguish between known and confirmed doping and speculation (even if it is the more likely explanation.) As an example, Team Sky have a clean reputation, but on here they do not. It's hard, or perhaps even impossible, to point to a failed test by a Sky rider, but reason does seem to suggest that it is likely. Would the "average" cycling fan accept either that Sky are doping, or that Mapei and Sassi were doping? What evidence could you offer them to convince them, for Mapei?
 

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