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by Shane Stokes
September 15, 2017
Photography by Cor Vos
Over four months after his son collapsed and died, former Tour de France podium finisher Raimondas Rumsas is being investigated in connection with the death.
On May 1, Linus Rumsas lost consciousness and underwent examinations at the San Luca hospital in Lucca, Italy. Those tests included a cardiogram, but hospital staff assumed a printer error in relation to the latter and released him.
The following day he collapsed at 10.30 in his home. The Lituanian under 23 champion was aided by his family and then by ambulance staff, but despite being taken back to the hospital his heart stopped two hours later. The 21-year-old had been competing for the elite under 23 Altopack team, which has links to Trek-Segafredo.
Now German news agency SID reports that the prosecutor’s office in Lucca is investigation his father Raimondas. It said that searches of his family apartment plus the apartment of the president of the Altopack team had led to the seizing of banned substances and medicines.
According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, a total of five people are being investigated in connection to the administration of doping products, dealing in stolen goods and violating the anti-doping act.
Rumsas senior had a controversial career. The Lithuanian won the Il Lombardia Classic in 2000 and finished fifth in the Vuelta a España, won the Vuelta al Pais Vasco the following season and then went on to take third overall in the 2002 Tour de France.
However his satisfaction and reputation would be immediately shaken by the news that on the day of the Tour finish, his wife Edita was stopped at the French border and an array of doping substances were found. Her car contained corticoids, EPO, testosterone, growth hormone and steroids. She claimed the substances were for her mother but was jailed. Rumsas was summoned to France to testify but refused to do so, leading to her remaining in prison for several months.
At the time his lawyer said that he believed French police were holding her ‘as a kind of bait’ to lure him back. “Our client wants to help his wife, avoid going to prison himself and continue his cycling career all at the same time,” he claimed.
She was later released, but he tested positive for EPO in May 2003. His sixth-place finish in that year’s Giro d’Italia was struck off and he received a one-year ban. His career fizzled out after that. In January 2006 the duo were handed four-month suspended sentences for the importation of prohibited doping substances. The Polish doctor Krzysztof Ficek received a suspended one year sentence for prescribing the same products.
Now, over a decade later, questions about Rumsas’ attitude towards banned substances have resurfaced under far more serious circumstances.