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by Neal Rogers
February 9, 2018
In today’s Daily News Digest: Cavendish wins Stage 3 of Dubai Tour, Viviani moves into GC lead; Massive raid reveals systematic doping program within amateur Italian team; 2018 Amgen Tour of California men’s and women’s routes announced; Aqua Blue Sport owner speaks of wildcard frustration, calls for changes; Gore Bike Wear brightens up Shakedry material for improved visibility; Iranian track sprinter Seyedmahmoud Rasouli handed four-year suspension.
The death of 21-year-old cyclist Linas Rumsas in May 2017 prompted an investigation that led to a massive doping raid in Lucca, Italy, resulting in several arrests, Il Tirreno reported Thursday.
Central to the investigation is the Italian amateur team Altopack-Eppela squad Rumsas rode with prior to his death. In the weeks prior to his death from a heart attack, Rumsas had achieved some of his best results — in particularly hard races — prompting a doping investigation. That ultimately led to arrests of the team director, Elso Frediani, and team owner, Luca Franceschi, for administering substances including erythropoietin.
Altopack-Eppela was the team associated with the Velo Club Coppi Lunata. Other team staff arrested include Michele Viola, former rider and athletic trainer of the Altopack team, who sold EPO meant for the riders and instructed them on how to best beat anti-doping controls, as well as Andrea Bianchi, an amateur pharmacist and cyclist, who provided substances to be injected without the necessary medical prescription. During the investigation, 25 vials of EPO were seized, found in Viola Michele’s home refrigerator.
Also arrested were Franceschi’s parents, Narciso Franceschi and Maria Luisa Luciani, who own a residence available to the athletes where the doping substances were administered. Syringes, intravenous catheters, and several vials of EPO were found at their home. Other substances found at homes belonging to various riders include testosterone and growth hormones, powerful painkillers all held without a prescription, as well as a large number of syringes.
In addition to six arrests, 17 others are under investigation. Most of the riders who competed for the Altopack during the 2016 and 2017 cycling season must now defend themselves against legal charges of sporting fraud.
Click through to read the full report (in Italian) at Il Tirreno.com.