A 21-year-old professional cyclist in Italy was suspended by his team and fined for the shooting death of a cat belonging to his neighbor, the minister of tourism and former head of state of San Marino.
Antonio Tiberi was fined the equivalent of $4,250, and his Trek-Segafredo team suspended him for 20 days after news of the incident broke in Italian media Tuesday. He said he was trying out an air rifle when he pointed it at the head of the cat belonging to the family of Federico Pedini Amati and fired.
“The cat didn’t bother anyone,” Pedini Amati said (via Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper). “It had been with us for a long time. My 3-year-old daughter Lucia loved it. You cannot kill a pet and get away with a … fine. I appreciated that the boy admitted the fact. Having said that, we don’t need to give these people residence.”
Tiberi, a juniors time trial world champion in 2019, had recently moved to San Marino, a landlocked microstate in north-central Italy. Trek-Segafredo called Tiberi’s action “reprehensible” in a statement Tuesday announcing the suspension and said that “if necessary the team will take further action in the future.” It added that it would donate Tiberi’s pay to an “appropriate animal care, protection and rescue organization.”
In a lengthy apology posted on Instagram, Tiberi called the shooting an accident as well as “a tremendously stupid and irresponsible [action], the seriousness and danger of which I realized only” afterward.
He added that he accepts with a “sense of responsibility and repentance the consequences and the blame for my action. If I have not spoken publicly about it before, it was only because of a strong sense of shame and regret. I understand the criticism from fans, the media and people in general. I can do nothing but apologize to them, just as I did to my team, who are a blameless victim of the affair. My conduct was not at all befitting a professional athlete and, more generally, a responsible and sensible person.”
He apologized to the Pedini Amati family for the “emotional damage” and said he planned to work with organizations dedicated to helping stray cats.
“I realize that all of this comes only [in retrospect] but, alas, I can only follow up the repentance with a concrete and useful gesture. I have made a big mistake and I believe that now the only thing I can do is act to redeem [myself].”