By VeloNews Interactive, with wire services
The Lithuanian cycling federation on Thursday deplored the aggressive manner in which the Baltic state’s star cyclist Raimundas Rumsas was arrested in Italy this week.
“Why use these hard-line tactics?” questioned Vytautas Zubernis, vice-president of the Baltic state’s cycling federation. “Raimundas Rumsas lives in Europe. He is not in hiding. This kind of arrest would be justified if he had refused to attend his hearing”
Rumsas was detained Wednesday in Italy on a European international arrest warrant issued by French prosecutors investigating drug trafficking.
In 2002 Rumsas was involved in a scandal after his wife Edita was caught with large quantities of growth hormones and other drugs in her car only hours before Rumsas himself stood upon the podium at the Tour de France after finishing third overall.
By the time police made the connection, Rusmas had already left France but his wife was jailed for several months before being released. French officials now want to charge Rumsas, his wife and Polish doctor Krzystof Ficek with smuggling drugs into the country.
He faces a three-year jail term if convicted.
Rumsas was banned for a year after testing positive for the banned endurance enhancer EPO during the 2003 Giro d’Italia.
Antanas Taucius, head of the Lithuanian cycling federation, was quoted by the Lithuanian daily Kauno Diena as saying Rumsas’ arrest was timed to scupper his comeback bid.
“It would appear that Raimundas Rumsas’ arrest did not come at a random point in time but right at the moment when he is again having success in competition,” Taucius told the newspaper.
Zubernis agreed that the arrest came at an inopportune moment for Rumsas.
“His career is in tatters. He could have hoped for a good placing in the world championships in Madrid in September,” he said. “Lithuanians greatly appreciate him. He has remained competitive while training as an amateur.”
Tour riders all good to go
All 189 riders on the Tour de France were Thursday declared fit to race after blood tests showed no doping, the sport’s world governing body UCI said.
The blood tests were carried out on all the peloton over a two-hour period early Thursday, just two days before the July 2-24 Tour kicks off.
Last year Spain’s Gorka Gonzalez was banned from racing after such a test proved positive.