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Cycling legend Pantani found dead

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Pantani was treated for depression and drug addiction

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RIMINI, Italy -- Former Tour de France and Giro d'Italia winner Marco Pantani was found dead in a Rimini residence Saturday, Italian news reports said. He was 34.

Italy's most popular cyclist was found in a room at the residence "Le Rose" in this seaside city, the ANSA news agency reported.

No explanation of death was provided, although police were on the scene.

There was no answer at Pantani's manager or team late Saturday.

In 1998, Pantani became the last cyclist to win both the Tour de France and the Giro in the same season. Since then, he has been plagued by doping accusations and suspensions.

Last summer, he spent several weeks in a health clinic specializing in treatment for depression and drug addiction.

In 1999, he failed a random blood test and was ejected from the Giro he was dominating.

A syringe containing traces of insulin was found in his hotel room in a police raid during the 2001 Giro. Pantani contended the syringe had been planted and that he didn't stay in the room on the night in question. The judges dismissed the claim for lack of proof, and he was suspended for six months.

In one of his best performances since his sparkling 1998 season, Pantani finished 14th in last year's Giro.


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