The scape goat? Journalists revisit former cycling director’s sudden dismissal
03.05.2018By Play the Game
In September 2013, is was discovered that 17 million dollars were missing from the bank account of Italian media company RCS Mediagroup, owner of Giro d’Italia. Two weeks later, Michele Acquarone, day-to-day manager of Giro d’Italia since 2011, was suspended with immediate effect. The news of his suspension was announced simultaneously with the news of the missing funds.
While a connection was never explicitly made, the public soon got the perception that the two events were connected, and one month after his suspension, Acquarone was formally let go for “failure to supervise”, but no formal charges have ever been raised against him.
“In these last five years, silence has been my worst enemy. RCS doesn’t speak. The media doesn’t speak. The criminal trial doesn’t start so nobody else is commanded to speak. The silence drives me crazy,” Acquarone says in a long-read article written by Steve Maxwell and Joe Harris and published on velonews.com.
In the article, they try to piece together the events in an effort to discover why Acquarone was fired, why RCS has never made any statements about what happened, what the police investigation found and to whom the evidence uncovered points to.
The Giro had grown substantially both economically and size wise under Acquarone’s leadership, and in December 2013, he sued RCS for wrongful dismissal and defamation, a suit that he lost earlier this year. Acquarone should have known about the illicit bank activities and have been in control of the bank deposits, said the court. What the court did not address was that Acquarone, according to his contract, had no economic responsibility.
Following the discovery of missing funds, a police investigation into the circumstances was set in motion. By the end of 2014, the investigation concluded and a trial was set to begin early 2015. The trial has still not been in court.
Since his dismissal in 2013, Acquarone has suffered professionally as well as personally and feels he was scapegoated for reasons he can only speculate about. Until today, he has maintained his innocence.
RCS has been silent about the event.