Bahrain Victorious respond to pre-Tour de France raids: ‘We sleep like babies, we work like horses’
Team plays down the Europol raids that took place on Monday.
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Bahrain Victorious officials played down police raids this week after several of their riders and staff were searched just days ahead of the start of the Tour de France.
Speaking to VeloNews, Bahrain Victorious performance manager Vladimir Miholjević was quick to dismiss the raids that took place Monday, stating that not only was the team fully transparent but that it had nothing to hide.
“The searches passed well. Everything was said in our press release and we’re here more confident than ever. It’s really difficult to say what to expect. We’d like to know why they are doing this,” Miholjević told VeloNews.
No charges have been brought against the team or any individuals in relation to last year’s raids or the ones that took place earlier this week.
Miholjević added that the team is fully focused on the Tour de France at this point.
“We’re sleeping like babies and working like horses. We’re showing everything through our results and we are 100 percent transparent,” he said.
“Someone who is interested to see how we are working can join our team for a period of time and maybe these people will understand the effort that staff and riders are putting in their jobs to achieve their results.”
Team officials say Monday’s raid also date back to police searches of team vehicles and hotel rooms during the 2021 Tour de France.
On Monday, the European Union Agency for Police Cooperation (Europol) conducted the operations across three countries.
Although the agency has been unwilling to come forward and state its motives, the Bahrain Victorious team has publicly linked them to the ongoing investigation that was launched into them by the Office Central de Lutte contre les Atteintes à l’Environnement et la Santé Publique (OCLAESP) during last year’s Tour de France after 50 plain-clothed police officers descended on the team’s hotel during the race.
When contacted by VeloNews a spokesperson for Europol would only state that “the action is ongoing and there’s nothing that we can say.”
On Europol’s own website the agency lists out a number of fields that in concentrates on including, cigarette smuggling to illicit drugs, money laundering, asset tracing, and cybercrime.
Miholjević was unwilling to provide details as to who had their homes searched and what the Europol warrant included.
“Europol didn’t say what they were looking for,” he said.
“They just came, with warrants, and actually the reasons in the warrant are really funny. This we can’t tell you because we are still talking to our legal team on how to put that out. But you will see. It is extremely funny.”
VeloNews spoke to riders Matej Mohorič and Jan Tratnik on Monday with both riders claiming that their properties had not been searched. Mohorič and Tratnik are set to race the Tour de France on July 1.
The team’s statement Monday claimed that the investigation was targeted in order to “damage the reputation of individuals” and the squad.
“Team Bahrain Victorious always works based on the highest standards of professionalism in sports, including the integrity of all professional members and competitors. The team cooperates constructively in all procedures and with all competent institutions,” a statement read.
“The investigation into the members of the team, which started almost a year ago and did not yield any results, continues just before the start of the most important cycling race, the Tour de France, and damages the reputation of individuals and team Bahrain Victorious. Due to recent investigations, the team feels the timing of this investigation is aimed at intentionally damaging the team’s reputation.
“The house searches experienced today by members from team Bahrain Victorious represent a continuation of the investigation process that began during the team’s successful performances at last year’s Tour de France. Bahrain Victorious were the only team in the Tour de France under investigation during the race last year.”