When the Spanish police raided the lab of cycling doctor turned doping kingpin Eufemiano Fuentes in 2006, they found 211 blood bags from athletes he worked with, as well as coded ledgers detailing his appointments with those athletes. Some of the codenames corresponded to the names of riders’ dogs, and stars like Ivan Basso and Alejandro Valverde got busted rather quickly.
But a few names were never matched to riders. Even as a court ruling opened up the possibility of testing the now-decade-old blood bags, one mystery still remained: Who is Luigi?
The riders that Fuentes referred to as “Clasicomano” and “Clasicomano Luigi” were never unmasked, but speculation that recently retired superstar Fabian Cancellara was Luigi began to pop up in 2008. Cancellara is one of the greatest cyclists of all time, and he’s won seven monuments, four world championships, and 10 Grad Tour stages, but his reputation has been slightly tarnished by rumors that he was the mystery Fuentes client.
Disgraced Fuentes patient Tyler Hamilton went to the Tour of California that year, despite being banned for doping, and heckled the rider he thought was Luigi. Hamilton never confirmed that he had targeted Cancellara, but Cancellara was openly disapproving of Hamilton’s loudmouthing and the rumor spread from there.
This summer, Cancellara put on a show and won gold in the Olympic time trial. Lance Armstrong congratulated him thusly.
Former pro Thomas Dekker replied to Armstrong, joking that it wasn’t him who’d won gold. That wasn’t an official confirmation, and the cycling media was hesitant to run with it, but Dekker confirmed today that he was Luigi, and not Cancellara.
Earlier this week, former pro Phil Gaimon tweeted a joke about Cancellara being Luigi, but was corrected by Dekker, who told him that he was Luigi. Dekker has a book coming out soon, in which he apparently speaks about his doping history. He spoke with Belgian paper Humo yesterday and confirmed that he was in fact Clasicomano Luigi.
It’s still unclear who the straight up Clasicomano is, but despite what a corps of American former professionals have said, Fabian Cancellara is not Luigi.