Italian police arrest team manager, director & pharmacist after death and ban of under 23 riders

Italian police arrested six people in a doping raid after the death of Linas Rumsas and banning of Raimondas Rumsas

Raimundas Rumsas in the junior mens time trial championships 2012 (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

Italian police, following a recent four-year ban of Raimondas Rumsas and death of Linas Rumsas, arrested six people, including the Team Altopack Eppela team manager, director and a pharmacist in an early morning raid in Lucca, Italy.

The move comes just two weeks after the Italian Anti-Doping Agency (NADO Italia) issued a four-year suspension to Raimondas Rumsas Jr., 23, for using human growth hormones.

His 21-year-old brother and amateur cyclist died for unknown reasons on May 2, 2017, and led to the Lucca prosecutor opening an investigation of Team Altopack and the Raimondas family.

Their father Lithuanian Raimondas Rumsas, third in the Tour de France in 2002, was banned from cycling for using drugs.

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Those close to Team Altopack say that the under 23 riders were using micro-doses of EPO, human growth hormones and opiate-based painkillers.

The police swoop on Thursday saw six arrested and 17 placed under investigation.

A police source said: "The investigation of the Rumsas family and the team helped us shed light on the doping practices, where team cyclists, some very young, were routinely subjected and encouraged by the team owner and sports director to use of prohibited substances."

Raimundo Rumsas in 2001 (Watson)
(Image credit: Watson)

Team owner Luca Franceschi "motivated them to dope and provided them with substances, including EPO in micro-doses." Sports director Elso Frediani is said to have helped them avoid controls.

Pharmacist and amateur cyclist Andrea Bianchi reportedly supplied growth hormones and EPO.

In the house of team trainer Michele Viola, police found 25 vials of EPO.

Raimondas Rumsas, now 45-years-old, won the Giro di Lombardia and placed third in the behind Lance Armstrong and Joseba Beloki in the Tour de France.

While travelling back home towards Italy, French police stopped his wife Edita and found she was carrying prohibited substances. Rumsas when called he refused to travel to France and left his wife in Bonneville's jail for 34 days.

They both received four-month suspended jail sentences. When the ruling arrived, however, Raimondas had already tested positive for blood booster EPO in the 2003 Giro d'Italia. He had placed sixth overall behind winner Gilberto Simoni.

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