Italian police raid Vini Zabú after rider tests positive for EPO 

The team’s Giro d’Italia wild card spot is now in doubt after their second positive test in 12 months 

(Image credit: Getty Images,)

Italian police have carried out raids on the Vini Zabú team after a rider tested positive for EPO.

Earlier this week, news emerged that Matteo De Bonis had been suspended from racing after he returned a positive doping control for performance enhancing EPO in February.

Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera has now reported that Vini Zabú were targeted by police, as officers carried out 25 searches into the ProTeam-level squad.

Raids were carried out by health and safety units from the Italian police force, the Carabinieri, in Sicily, Lombardy, and Friuli.

According to the report, De Bonis, team manager Angelo Citracca, and sports director Luca Scinto are all under investigation, while searches were also carried out on riders’s homes.

On Tuesday (March 30), the UCI announced that De Bonis had been suspended after he returned an Adverse Analytical Finding (AAF) for EPO during an out-of-competition test on February 16, 2021.

The test was carried out by the International Testing Agency on behalf of the UCI, with the organisation saying the test was a targeted doping control.

De Bonis still has the right to request analysis of his B sample and has been suspended until the UCI officially makes a decision on whether to ban him.

Vini Zabú, who have been invited to race the 2021 Giro d’Italia on a wild card entry, are now facing a team-wide suspension, as De Bonis’s positive test is their second doping suspension in the last 12 months.

In October last year, Matteo Spreafico tested positive for ostarine during the Giro d’Italia.

Vini Zabú could be suspended for between 15 to 45 days under UCI rules, which could result on the team missing this year’s Giro.

The UCI will refer the matter to its Disciplinary Commission to make a decision on suspending the team.

Italian rider De Bonis, 25, joined the team last season, racing the Tour Colombia, two Belgian one-day races and the Tour de Luxembourg.

Following news of De Bonis's positive test, Vini Zabú said team manger Citracca had called the rider to their headquarters in Baronto to establish the truth.

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The team said: "About the events of the past 24 hours, with the positivity of the athlete Matteo De Bonis, the team manager Angelo Citracca has called for this afternoon the rider to come to the headquarters in San Baronto.

"The athlete has accepted to join this meeting together with his father and the team expects that the athlete will be available to establish the truth.

"The team has commissioned a legal team to protect and safeguard its image, even considering any damage actions.

"In accordance with the anti-doping rules the rider has been suspended."