MADRID (VN) — The Giro d’Italia route was revealed with much fanfare on Monday, but there was one person missing: race director Michele Acquarone.
The Italian is on leave as internal investigators dig into how an estimated 13 million euros disappeared from the books at Giro owner RCS Sport. Former CEO Giacomo Catano is also under suspension and another official left the company.
On Friday, Acquarone released a statement to the media, making his first public comments on the story that broke last week.
“I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days,” Acquarone said. “I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified.”
RCS MediaGroup, parent company of RCS Sport, announced last week that it was undertaking an external audit to examine banking transactions: “In response to some administrative checks carried out recently by the Administration, Finance, Management Control, and Legal Affairs of the parent company RCS MediaGroup S.p.A., with the support of the Internal Audit Department, today we summoned the Board of Directors of the subsidiary RCS Sport S.p.A., which resolved to entrust to an outside company promptly initiating an audit to carry out the necessary further research on the nature of certain banking transactions carried out with related associations to RCS Sport but not consolidated in the company. These insights will also be aimed at assessing the extent of any damage suffered by the company.”
How the internal investigation will impact Acquarone remains to be seen.
Since his arrival as Giro chief in 2011, Acquarone has nurtured growing momentum behind the Italian grand tour sparked during the tenure of former director Angelo Zomegnan, who took over a moribund Giro in 2005 and helped pump new energy into the race.
Acquarone quickly became a key player in the cycling community, reaching out to teams and riders to promptly build a constituency. He has helped revive Giro branding and marketing, overseeing the creation of the Giro gran fondo series and the decision to start the 2014 Giro in Belfast.
In his letter, Acquarone vowed to return to the stage soon, writing, “I only dream about the day I can return to my team, and get back to working towards the 2014 Giro d’Italia, with even greater enthusiasm than that which has driven me over these years.”
I have dedicated fourteen years of my life to the RCS Group, the last five of which I spent working tirelessly on strengthening and growing RCS Sport.
As director of Giro d’Italia, I sought to develop the prestige of this event as part of Italy’s heritage and for cycling fans all over the world. Looking at the results, I would say that I have succeeded.
It was much to my frustration however that I could not participate in the presentation of that which I consider one of my most accomplished creations, the 2014 Giro d’Italia, and I apologize to all the friends I could not meet with.
Those who know me, are well aware that my professional style is based on three key concepts: fairness, respect and dialogue.
Those who know me, also know that I hold the trust of fans and of people involved in the industry, at the center of my heart, and if today I can benefit from such trust, it is because I have always worked with greatest transparency and honesty, as well as with total dedication and loyalty to the RCS Group.
For the ties linking me to Giro fans and to the people involved in the industry, I want to strongly reassure everyone of my non-involvement in the matters that have been reported in the mass media over the last few days.
Today the life of a company is permanently marked in time, and I am certain that all the facts will soon be completely clarified.
I only dream about the day I can return to my team, and get back to working towards the 2014 Giro d’Italia, with even greater enthusiasm than that which has driven me over these years.
Thank you for your support, and see you soon.