Italy cycling team staff arrested after doping-related drugs found in fridge

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By Emma Beswick
Italy cycling team staff arrested after doping-related drugs found in fridge

Members of the management at a top amateur cycling club in Italy have been arrested after police found drugs stashed in the team's refrigerator.

The owner of team Altopack Eppela, the former sports director and a pharmacist were among those held for allegedly supplying cyclists with drugs prohibited by doping rules, in the absence of a prescription.

Local media reported: "It was the president himself who encouraged athletes, many of whom were very young, to use the doping substances among which EPO in microdoses, growth hormones and opiate-based painkillers."

Raids took place in Lucca and elsewhere in Tuscany, media reported.

Several bags containing syringes, hidden under a fruit bowl, can be seen in a video posted on the Twitter account for Italy's national police force.

Footage also shows officers going through the club's bins where they find empty vials and other doping paraphernalia.

The operation was launched after the death of promising 21-year-old Lithuanian cyclist Linas Rumsas in May 2017, said police. Rumsas rode for Velo Club Coppi Lunata, which has close ties to Altopack Eppela.

The young athlete's father is ex-professional cyclist Raimondas Rumsas, who was arrested in 2005 for doping-related offences.

The race before Linas' sudden death aroused police suspicion that it was due to the use or abuse of unauthorized drugs, according to local media.