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Monk confirms Coppi murder claim

The Benedictine monk who could hold the key to whether Italian cycling legend Fausto Coppi was murdered in 1960 told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper Sunday that he was convinced that Coppi died because of foul play, and not because of a virus as was originally thought. On Saturday Italian magistrates opened an inquiry into the allegations although at present the only item of evidence in the dossier was Saturday's edition of Corriere dello Sport, which broke the story. For the second day running the paper devoted its first four pages to the story, and this time went into far more

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By VeloNews Interactive Wire Services, Copyright AFP 2001

Was Coppi murdered?

Was Coppi murdered?

Photo: AFP

The Benedictine monk who could hold the key to whether Italian cycling legend Fausto Coppi was murdered in 1960 told the Corriere dello Sport newspaper Sunday that he was convinced that Coppi died because of foul play, and not because of a virus as was originally thought.

On Saturday Italian magistrates opened an inquiry into the allegations although at present the only item of evidence in the dossier was Saturday’s edition of Corriere dello Sport, which broke the story. For the second day running the paper devoted its first four pages to the story, and this time went into far more detail, explaining a precise motive and directly quoting the monk, a 75-year-old Frenchman named Brother Adrien.

Speaking from St. Benoit Monastery in Koubri near the African country of Burkina Faso’s capital Ouagadougou, Brother Adrien confirmed he was the monk who had told Italian sports administrator Mino Caudullo of the murder theory. Caudullo, who admitted his memory was hazy, had said that the cleric was called Brother Rene. But with the help of Sister Henrietta the paper identified the monk as Adrien. “Yes, he (Coppi) was poisoned,” explained Brother Adrien. “I first found out in Bouake in the Ivory Coast, my second African mission before arriving to found St. Benoit at Koubri in 1961.”

The monk confirmed that the motive for the murder — supposedly carried out with a slow acting herbal potion though Coppi was certified as having died from malaria — was related to revenge for the death of a rider from the Ivory Coast.

“The rider concerned was from the Ivory Coast at Bouake. From what I understand he died after a fall,” said Brother Adrien

The monk was unable to name the rider, but the newspaper has identified him as Canga or Kanga. No confirmation could be found of the death of a rider in France, but the paper cites a witness saying that an Ivorian rider did die after a fall in a race in Burkina Faso.

“At Bouake the people told me all about it. The family and friends wanted to organize a punitive mission for vengeance,” continued Brother Adrien. “Coppi was killed with a potion mixed with grass. Here in Burkina Faso this awful phenomenon still happens, people are still being killed like that.”

Coppi died in hospital on January 2, 1960 in Alessandria, Italy after falling ill during a visit to Burkina Faso the previous December. Until now it has always been supposed that he died because of malaria and because the condition had not been diagnosed early enough.

He had made cycling history in 1949 by becoming the first man to win both the Tour of Italy and the Tour de France in the same year, a feat he repeated in 1952.

After Saturday’s revelations the rider’s doctor, his son and a French cyclist who traveled with him to Burkina Faso all dismissed the report from Corriere.

Copyright AFP 2001