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 (opens in new tab) 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.
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."
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Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for CyclingWeekly.com. After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers. Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.
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