Coroner's report says death not a suicide

RIMINI, Italy -- Italian cycling great Marco Pantani died last month of a cocaine overdose, judicial sources said on Friday, quoting a coroner's report.

The doctor who carried out the autopsy reached that
conclusion and deposited his draft findings with judicial
authorities, the sources said.

The ANSA news agency reported that Giuseppe Fortuni determined
Pantani died of "acute cocaine poisoning." The initial autopsy
showed he died from severe swelling in his brain and heart, but
Fortuni ordered more tests to find out why there was swelling.

The report added: "At this stage, there are no concrete
elements to support the hypothesis of a death caused by

The AGI and APcom news agencies had similar reports. Calls from
The Associated Press to the prosecutors' office and Pantani's
manager were not immediately returned.

The complete report was due to be published in two weeks.

Pantani, who won the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France in
1998, was found dead in a hotel room in the central Italian city
of Rimini on Feb. 14.

About 10
bottles of tranquilizers were found in the room, some of them
empty, others just open, police said. Pantani was 34.

Pantani's 1998 Tour de France victory was the last by a rider
other than Lance Armstrong.

Pantani was one of Italy's most popular sportsmen until the
1999 Giro when he was thrown out of the race for failing a test
for haematocrit -- an indicator, though not proof, of the use of
performance-enhancing drugs.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.