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The Torri Model

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Odd-sounding story in La Gazzetta, via CN, about how the manager of Amore e Vita, Ivano Fanini, recently made some comments about riders finding out about upcoming tests, as well as some other overly candid remarks... only to find a certain Ettore Torri on his calendar. The article states that Torri met with Fanini, and for now isn't opening up any investigation, but I personally find the suggestion interesting, that he could investigate Fanini for some public statements.

Torri is Italy's all-seeing, all-powerful anti-doping prosecutor on behalf of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), which has jurisdiction over sports ethics in Italy and functions as the sports doping court. Torri seems to have full latitude to open cases and conduct investigations, or at least if he needs permission from CONI first, he has little trouble getting it. Torri seems free to roam the countryside trolling for potential doping activities, and to bring cases that don't involve positive tests but otherwise consist of suspicious activity.

Take the Oil for Drugs scandal: Danilo DiLuca was suspended three months for a conversation caught on tape where Dr. Carlo Santuccione advised him to take EPO, and for other interaction with the notorious doping doc. DiLuca was never caught taking anything, and can comfortably maintain that he has never failed a test -- which in this country would be the end of the story. But in Italy, he was prosecuted anyway and got something of a sentence. [This post isn't intended to debate the merits of his case or sentence, BTW.]

The idea of an all-powerful prosecutor has both positive and negative connotations to Americans, IMHO, but I think more countries should follow the Torri model. The benefit to me is that Torri can adjudicate cases that would otherwise linger endlessly. When rumors of shady dealings break, fans tend to label the rider a doper, but without adjudication the question is never answered. Obviously the riders don't want to face jeopardy for anything less than a positive test, but adjudication settles the matter once and for all, and guys like DiLuca can serve their time and carry on.

The other benefit is to the sport. Riders can't simply rely on beating the tests to stay clear of prosecution; they need to be above suspicion if they are to feel truly comfortable. In other words, be innocent, or be afraid. It's another tool for the anti-doping forces, and another incentive for riders to stay clean.

The obvious downside is the invasive nature of zealous prosecutors. Riders can't be forced to constantly prove themselves clean. It's great to have someone enforcing standards of ethical behavior outside of the testing regime. But prosecutors need to be overseen by a board which holds them to some level of proof, like grand jury proceedings in criminal cases do in the US. You can't go after a rider who has a good result... but you don't have to wait for the Spanish court to act if you have evidence of a rider under your jurisdiction having been caught up in Operacion Puerto.

What say ye?