Tomorrow I will have the right to be present at the start of the Italian Championship: this was denied to me last year by the Italian Cycling directors for false administrative details, in spite of my right to participate.

I can now compete with a clear conscience because on April 30th 2015, after an interminable lawsuit, the tribunal decided in my favour and declared that I was definitively cleared of the 2008 Olympic Games’ doping accusations and of any tax evasion: bringing to light that the decision brought against me by the sportive justice was the result of a false evaluation, badly founded and contrary to ordinary justice. A long, painful and exhausting battle followed - but the victory was the most important and equitable of my career and of my whole life.

Very few know my real story and most people blindly accept what the critics say or write on the media. I have tried in vain to defend myself and to prove my innocence, but I have never been believed or listened to and even less understood. Whenever I tried to have an explanation as to why important control irregularities occurred during the processing of the blood samples, I never received an answer: out of the seven samples taken, four disappeared, one was damaged, one was insufficient in volume and the only so-called ‘positive’ one had apparently passed through many unknown hands...! There has never been any explanation! There is no documentation on the traceability of the samples and we don’t know who kept the samples in Peking or even where they went to during the months before being examined in Lausanne: whereas this documentation and traceability should have been irreproachable, clear and precise...

As a result, I was unjustly suspended for two years from the passion of my life; this was bad enough but worse was to come as this became seven long years of banishment. After two years of suspension, in 2011, I was met with so many closed doors by organizers, teams and medias... because of a fierce fight against me by national and international sportive institutions, and more especially cyclists, since I had dared to defend myself against their accusations. Thus, with very few races, I spent more energy trying to do my work legally and with dignity, than in doing intensive training: not to mention the important prejudices to which I was subjected, both personally and economically.

I was determined to preserve and defend my dignity at all costs and my clear conscience helped me to resist all the psychological pressure put forward to make me deny the truth. It was my Battle: never to capitulate, never accept the inacceptable, never to give up but always to face up to obstacles, difficulties and most exhausting of all, to face up to injustices... all this without losing sight of my main goal. A goal which has always been to do my work, as I have a right, and to do it with all my heart, as I have always done. To continue to follow and respect my emotions without giving in to anyone or anything!.

It would have been so much easier to give up, capitulate and carry the weight of culpability but I would have seriously and profoundly betrayed myself?

I have always been determined to defend my dignity by upholding the truth and by believing in a final justice. The journey has been thankless, painful and cruel but it is at such times of extreme suffering that it is important to persevere, to grit your teeth and continue ahead to reach the finish line as a winner, under any circumstance.

But there can be no peace without justice... It was seven years of torment with the added fear that the final accusation would end in a ‘prescription’, whereas it was very important to me that my innocence be recognized. Luckily the trial was over before the ‘prescription’ with a complete acquittal judgment. What a deliverance... But, now, who can give me back all that was taken? “My" races so dear to me like the Belgian Classics, in which I could no longer take part, the possibility to join top teams, the Olympic Medal, which I can no longer hope to recover without yet another long and costly lawsuit, which I could no longer afford, and, more importantly, who will repair the damage done to my personal serenity and that of my family?

Who will soothe the sorrow of my wife, Françoise, who met me when I was at breaking point and who has never hesitated in her love and support for me during this, the most difficult part of my life? Who will repair her painful wounds inflicted by seeing her husband treated as a criminal so to speak when what was really criminal was the relentless attack by the media who instead of listening to me, preferred to judge, condemn and block access to my dreams which I had as much right to fulfill as anyone else?

I must also make reference to the numerous articles published without any interview and in which my discourse was misinterpreted: nor the complete silence of the medias following a good performance on my part nor the continual reminder of my disqualification accompanied by discriminating allusions. We have heard so many slanderous lies! In reply to these people without any scruples: before judging my life, put on my shoes, walk my road, fall where I fell, feel the stones that were thrown at me, pick yourself up and continue ahead in spite of all obstacles, closed doors and malicious people who try to stop, demoralize and crush you... continue to suffer on your bike and to consecrate your life to the best, with perseverance, conviction and faith... Only then will you realize that it is more difficult to ruin without scruples the life of a man and his family.

The most important thing is that they have not managed to make me yield, to weaken me or remove my enthusiasm. They have not managed to steal my passion which has remained intact and more active than ever!

Yesterday’s suffering has become today’s FORCE!

To those who wanted to hurt and destroy me, I can only say that I have come through it all!

To those of you who have always believed in me with kindness and humanity, I will forever say THANK YOU!

26 Giugno 2015