Italian Tax Authorities Investigating Rossi

Italians are up in arms about a tax scandal swirling around national sporting hero Valentino Rossi, according to published reports.

The seven-time world motorcycle champion, who's in second place so far this year behind Australia's Casey Stoner, is under investigation by Italian tax authorities, who suspect he is dodging paying his taxes, according to Reuters.

Rossi moved to England in 2000. Now the state tax agency suspects he has evaded paying taxes on €60 million ($83 million).

Rossi, Italy 's richest sportsman according to Reuters, says his tax consultants are checking the matter.

"For seven months of the year I travel the world for my job. The tax agency is rightly doing its job ... My consultants are already examining the issue," he told ANSA news agency.

Italy could turn to the European Union to try to strike down British law under which "a more or less fictitious residence in London allows you not to pay taxes in your own country," Vincenzo Visco, the government's tax chief, told the news agency.

The 28-year-old rider is a national icon and the biggest name to be caught up in the fight against tax cheats since Argentinian soccer legend Diego Maradona last year, Reuters reported.

The Yamaha rider is the youngest man to have won world titles in all three motorcycling classes. He won four MotoGP titles from 2002 to 2005. American Nicky Hayden bested him for the world title last year.

Adding to Italians' dismay is Rossi's charming image. Italian newspapers even ran editorials expressing their disappointment.