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Pantani's last letter

CESENATICO, Italy, Feb 18 (Reuters) - Following is the text of a note written by Italian cyclist Marco Pantani on nine pages of his passport before his death, and read out at his funeral on Wednesday his friend and former manager Manuela Ronchi.

The note appeared to have been written during a recent trip to Cuba. It was written in Italian and translated by Reuters.

"For four years I was in every court. I lost the desire to be like every other sportsman. But cycling paid and many youngsters have lost faith in justice. I'm suffering with this letter.

"The world understands that all my colleagues have been humiliated in their hotel rooms with hidden TV cameras, that tried to ruin many families. After that how can you not hurt yourself?

"I don't know why I stopped myself in these moments of anger if I made mistakes I'd like to know that there is proof but when my sporting life and above all my private life was violated I lost a lot.

"I'm in this country and I want to say that "hasta la victoria" is a great thing for an athlete but it is more difficult having given your heart for the sport with accidents and injuries. But I always got back up.

"What is left? Just a lot of anger and sadness for the violence of the judicial system. My true story should be an example for other sports. Rules yes, but equal for everybody.

"There's not a job where you have to give your blood and where the families of your colleagues are woken up during the night.

"I was always afraid of being spied on at home, in hotels and by TV cameras. I ended up hurting myself to not give up my intimacy, the intimacy of my girlfriend and of other colleagues who also lost, of other families who like me were attacked.

"Go and see what a cyclist is really like. How many people were involved in my sadness as I tried to make a comeback with my dreams as a man which were muddied by drugs, but after my life as an athlete.

"If a bit of humanity helps us understand and asks what makes us hope, when you make a real mistake you understand and you fight with your heart.

"This document is the truth. My hope is that real men or women can read it and defend equal rules in sport for everybody. I'm not a liar, I feel hurt and everybody who believed in me has to speak out."
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