Report: Dominica's cross-country couple pull Olympic-sized hoax

The di Silvestris hardly competed at the Olympics. (Photo via Gary di Silvestri)

It was a cushy story about two philanthropic veteran cross-country skiers who somehow represented the tropical island of Dominica at the recently concluded Sochi Games. 

However, it appears that Gary di Silvestri, 46 and originally from Staten Island, and his wife, Angelica Morrone de Silvestri, aren’t who they say they are, according to Deadspin

Initially, it was believed that the couple had been granted citizenship from Dominica after offering lots of time and money to children’s hospitals in the region. While not exactly disputed, Deadspin reported that anyone, anywhere could become citizens of Dominica by paying $175,000 into a national bank account.

But that’s not even the half of it. The two skiers showed up in Sochi as Dominica’s inaugural winter Olympians, but Gary, competing in the 15K men’s classic, pulled out of the race after a few hundred meters. He was apparently the only starter who didn’t cross the first checkpoint. His wife, Angelica, was the only racer out of 76 entrants to not show up for her 10K women’s classic race. Had Morrone raced at age 48, she would’ve become the oldest Olympic cross-country skier of all-time, by seven years.

Upon even further review, more of their story didn’t add up. Deadspin looked into Gary’s claims to NBCOlympicTalk that Gary was a “two-time state wrestling champion” and that he was a national champion rower at Georgetown. The wrestling titles seems to be fabricated while Georgetown’s rowing coach in the late eighties, said, “Gary wasn’t in the boats that medaled those years, so it wouldn’t be accurate to say he was on the medal stand, getting the medals around his neck.”

Gary’s embellishment appears to be nothing compared to his wife’s Olympic history, though.

From Deadspin: “Morrone got caught up in the massive international scandal that broke out in the 1990s over alleged fraud in the awarding of international winter sports competitions, including the Olympics.”

A Swiss attorney and IOC official Marc Hodler alerted the media that committee members had allegedly been selling their votes for where to award various winter competitions. Specifically, Hodler cited Fiat, an Italian booster, as a primary offender.

The former president of the U.S. ski team, Howard Peterson, corroborated Hodler’s story, including the part about Fiat. Peterson alleged that Fiat offered him two cars so that he’d vote to award the 1997 skiing world championships to Sestriere, Italy.

“One of the card-carrying alleged bribers who approached Peterson was a Fiat marketing official named Angelica de Silvestri,” Deadspin reported.

An online bio from an architectural construction company features the couple on its board of directors. Within Morrone’s bio, it talks of her previous work with Fiat.

"She began her career at Fiat USA, in the Financial Relations Group. Ms. Morrone's responsibilities included the ongoing financial and strategic analysis of the automotive, biotech, farm equipment, luxury goods, and steel sectors, all core businesses of the Fiat group. After three years, she was appointed to head the Division, and, in addition, assumed responsibility for the financial marketing activities of Fiat." 

Sestriere was ultimately awarded the ’97 championships, and Italy then used that to suggest it should host the 2006 winter Olympics in Turin, where Deadspin notes Fiat is headquartered.

A spokesman for Dominica told Deadspin that he’s not sure whether the country will celebrate its winter Olympians. 

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