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Dumbass Award: Pro Cyclist Kills Minister’s Cat, May Be Deported

During his fledgling pro tour career, Trek-Segafredo's Antonio Tiberi hasn’t brought home a lot of hardware — for cycling. Today, though, he garnered a dubious award from GearJunkie.

antonio tiberi cycling in a time trialAntonio Tiberi on his way to the 2019 UCI Juniors Time Trial World Championship; (photo/Sum of Marc via Flickr)
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When Italian pro cyclist Antonio Tiberi shot his proverbial shot last June, he might not have known how badly he’d want to take it back.

That’s when Tiberi fired an air rifle at a cat near his home in San Marino, Italy. He hit the animal and killed it. The action itself was less than ideal — but to add to Tiberi’s troubles, the feline turned out to be the pet of local Minister for Tourism Federico Pedini Amati.

The cyclist first faced consequences last November, according to Cyclingnews, amounting to €‎4,000 in fines and the revocation of the air rifle. Then, Tiberi’s team, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) WorldTeam Trek-Segafredo, suspended him for 20 days without pay.

But in comments to Milan news outlet Corriera della Sera, Pedini suggested a harsher penalty: revoking Tiberi’s residency status in Italy.

“The cat wasn’t bothering anyone,” Pedini Amati said (auto-translated). “It had been with us for a long time. My three-year-old daughter Lucia adored it. You can’t kill a pet and get away with a €4,000 fine. I appreciated that the guy admitted the fact. That said, we don’t need to give these people residency.”

The 21-year-old has taken responsibility for the misdeed, with a contrite statement his agent transmitted to Cyclingnews.

“I deeply regret my shameful actions. Shooting the cat was something tremendously stupid and irresponsible, the seriousness and danger of which I realized only after,” Tiberi said in the statement. “I don’t want to make any kind of excuse to comment, to add any ‘if’ or ‘but’. I accept with sense of responsibility and repentance the consequences and the blame for my action.”

In the statement, Tiberi went on to apologize to his team, and to Pedini for causing him “emotional damage,” but said that he did not mean to kill the cat.

In one confusing comment to the judge who heard the case, Tiberi explained that his intent was to test the gun’s range.

“My intention was simply to measure the weapon’s shooting range, so I was targeting a no parking sign,” Tiberi said, according to Corriere della Sera (auto-translated). “I also admit that I (just as foolishly and unconsciously) tried to shoot a cat. And to my surprise I actually shot it. I had no intention of killing the animal. In fact, I was convinced the weapon was non-lethal.”

Tiberi’s suspension will bench him for the upcoming Trofeo Laigueglia (March 1), Tirreno-Adriatico (March 6-12), and Milano-Torino (March 15). Meanwhile, Trek-Segafredo plans to donate the young rider’s tour winnings this season to “an appropriate animal care, protection and rescue organization.” Volunteer work also figures to play into his future, per Cyclingnews.

Tiberi first made headlines as UCI Juniors World Champion time trialist in 2019. He turned pro in 2021 and claimed one stage win last season at the Tour de Hongrie. This year, he was off to a strong start with finishes of eighth place at the Tour Down Under and seventh at the UAE Tour.

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