Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Six arrests in Italy in Rumsas doping probe



Six arrests in Italy in Rumsas doping probe

Six arrests in Italy in Rumsas doping probe

The investigation into the death of cyclist Linas Rumsas, son of former professional rider Raimondas Rumsas, led today to arrests at his former Altopack Eppela amateur team, Italian prosecutors said.

Police raided several premises in the Tuscan town of Lucca early today and detained team owner Luca Franceschi, former sports director Elso Frediani, pharmacist Andrea Bianchi and ex-trainer Michele Viola for allegedly supplying young riders with doping products.

Altopack Eppela was the team associated with the Velo Club Coppi Lunata with which 21-year-old Linas Rumsas competed before his death following a heart attack on May 2, 2017.

“Since the young man, in the weeks leading up to his death, had obtained excellent placings in particularly tough races, far superior to those obtained in the past, the suspicion immediately arose that the sudden death was due to the use or abuse of unauthorised drugs,” police told a press conference.

Suspicions were reinforced because his father, Lithuanian rider Raimondas Rumsas, along with his mother Edita, had in the past been investigated for trafficking doping substances.

“The investigation has revealed the existence of a real partnership aimed at facilitating doping practices,” police said.

Franceschi “recruited the most promising cyclists, motivated them to take drugs and procured doping substances for them, including EPO in microdoses”.

Franceschi’s parents are also alleged to have allowed riders inject themselves at their home where doping paraphernalia including syringes, needles and powerful painkillers were found. Twenty-five vials of EPO were also discovered in the fridge at Viola’s house.

All were placed under house arrest pending the conclusion of the investigation, with a further 17 people being probed.

Police also searched the home of the father of the young deceased cyclist and his older brother, Raimondas Rumsas Jr, also a promising cyclist, who was suspended for four years last month for doping.

Rumsas’s parents were at the centre of a doping investigation in 2003 when French customs officers seized a large quantity of doping products in Edita Rumsas’s car on the day her husband finished third in the Tour de France.

Rumsas Sr tested positive for EPO at the 2003 Giro d’Italia and was suspended for one year.

Altopack Eppela is one of Italy’s biggest amateur cycling teams and young athletes are said to have been encouraged to take banned products including EPO, growth hormone and opiate-based painkillers.

Searches were also carried out in other Tuscan towns, and the northern city of Bergamo.

MOST VIEWED

  • Purging Sihanoukville’s past with a new masterplan

    Amid illicit activities, haphazard development and abandoned projects, the coastal city of Sihanouk province needs a reset to move forward. A new masterplan might be the answer to shake off its seemingly mucky image to become the Shenzhen of the south Gun toting, shootouts, police

  • Chinese may be first in tourism revival: PM

    Cambodia's tourism industry is gearing up to roll out the red carpet for Chinese travellers after Prime Minister Hun Sen on September 17 indicated that the Kingdom could soon throw open its doors to international holidaymakers vaccinated against Covid-19 – starting with guests from China. Cambodia Chinese

  • 'Pursue your goals, reach out to me': Young diplomat tapped as envoy to South Korea

    Chring Botum Rangsay was a secretary of state at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation before being designated as the new Cambodian ambassador to South Korea. According to her official CV published on the foreign ministry’s website, she started her first government

  • Tourism concerns laid bare

    To ensure the success of plans to reopen the tourism market for international visitors, Cambodia must pay utmost attention to two primary determinants – the ongoing paradigm shift in domestic tourism services towards the ‘new normal’, and the factors influencing choices of destinations among foreign holidaymakers.

  • Covid jab drive for 6-11 age group to begin Sept 17

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has permitted Covid-19 vaccinations for over 1.8 million children aged 6-11 across the country from September 17 in order for them to return to school after a long hiatus. Hun Sen also hinted that vaccinations for the 3-6 age group will follow in

  • No ‘Crown Prince’ exists to buy France football club: ministry

    The Ministry of the Royal Palace has denied media reports that a Cambodian “Crown Prince” had purchased the AS Saint Etienne football club of France’s top-flight LIGUE 1 at the cost of €100 million ($117 million). In a press statement on September 19, the ministry stressed that Cambodia