Stefano Stagni, winner of the 35th Maratona dles Dolomites race, has been accused of cheating based on a series of questionable actions, including record breaking climbing times, suspicion of a hidden motor, an odd hand movement caught on live video and a missing bike.
Stagni, though, professes his innocence and says, “I’m not stupid to cheat on live on TV.”
Italian news site Corriera Della Serra (CDS) does not agree and wrote, “This athlete’s performance is deemed unlikely by the [Strava] system and [its] users. The comments on the Net are ferocious and detailed: the climbing times on the great Dolomite passes are surreal. Stagni had a motor in his bike and cheated, violating a sacred rule. He deceived everyone out of the eye of the cameras by exploiting the stretches of connection between one climb and another, between Cernadoi and the Giau and between the Giau and the Falzarego, when the group of the best [fondo riders] had inexorably dropped him. But he also cheated on live TV.”
The 27-year-old Stagni, a former star volleyball player who took up amateur cycling this year, is accused of using a hidden battery powered motor during the 35th edition of the world famous amateur race in the Dolomite mountains and controlling the motor from the handlebars with his left hand, as supposedly shown in THIS VIDEO.
The video is an excerpt from the live broadcast Rai shot on the Mür dl Giat, the final major climb before the finish, where Stagni presses on an area of the handlebar without shift or brake levers and the bike seems to quickly surge forward.
In addition, his Strava file contained questionable data and irregularities noticed by over 600 cyclists before it was removed from site’s online database of athlete race data, which includes detailed GPS, power, hear rate, time and cadence information.
Before Stagni’s race data was removed from Strava, the data showed climbing times over the steepest Dolomites passes were almost on par with the world’s best Grand Tour riders, only 4 minutes slower up Passo Giau than 2021 Giro d’Italia champion Egan Bernal and only 3.5 minutes slower than Vincenzo “The Shark of Messina” Nibali at the 2016 Giro, which he won.
Stagni’s winning bike also mysteriously disappeared after the race while Stagni was interviewed on live TV and the bike was not inspected by officials, nor has Stagni presented the bike for inspection since his victory.
While the veracity of the CDS story is uncertain, the Maratona dles Dolomites organizers are so embarrassed at all the unwanted mechanical doping attention that in 2023 they plan to perform motor doping checks using x-ray machines and held held devices.
When asked for his final thoughts on cheating at amateur Italian cycling races, Stagni offered this, “Italy is the country where those who arrive in 200th place think that the 199 [riders] in front cheated. But I have a clear conscience, I pedal to have fun.”
Photos: Maratona dles Dolomites, Rai