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Tuesday, July 30
 
Rumsas: Drugs carried by wife were for relative

Associated Press

PARIS -- The third-place finisher in the Tour de France insisted he used no banned substances during the race and the drugs found on his wife were medications for his mother-in-law.

"I have never taken anything. My Tour is clean,'' Lithuania's Raimondas Rumsas told the Italian Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper on Tuesday.

Enrico Carpani, a spokesman for world cycling's governing body, the UCI, said Tuesday that all of Rumsas' drug tests from the Tour were negative.

Rumsas commented for the first time since his wife was detained Sunday morning after being caught with a stash of suspicious drugs by customs officials en route to Italy.

Edita Rumsas was put under formal investigation for supplying doping products following a hearing before an investigative magistrate Tuesday, prosecutor Vincent Le Pannerer said.

"The explanations given by the rider's wife are for now incomplete and in some cases hardly credible,'' Le Pannerer said. "They require numerous further inquiries.''

Christian Lothion, of the judicial police in Lyon, said "an enormous amount of products'' were seized from Edita Rumsas' vehicle that was stopped by customs officials near the Mont Blanc tunnel.

"The illicit products included the injectable form of the performance-enhancing substance EPO and testosterone, he said.

The magistrate's hearing did not specify for whom the products were intended.

Raimondas Rumsas told the Italian sports paper he had not spoken with his wife. Concerning the products she was carrying, he said: "She was bringing them from Lithuania for my mother-in-law, Yakstenia.''

Phone calls to Rumsas' house in Lucca were not answered Tuesday, and his Milan lawyer, Federico Cecconi, declined to make a statement.

Rumsas' performance in the grueling race surprised everyone, and Tour champion Lance Armstrong lauded him as a promising rider.

Six members of the logistical staff of the rider's Lampre team also were held for questioning, then freed, with no charges, said judicial sources, speaking on customary condition of anonymity.

Lampre spokesman Gabriele Sola said the entire team -- with the exception of himself -- flew back to Italy on Sunday. Sola said he was the only team member in the Sofitel Porte de Sevres hotel on the edge of Paris when police made a five-hour search of his room and his team car.

The coach of Lampre told Le Parisien newspaper that the team was not trying to flee when it left suddenly for Italy after the Tour, never using the hotel rooms. He said other Italian teams went directly home.

Coach Pietro Algeri said Rumsas would be dismissed should the investigation show he used illegal substances.

"For the moment, we don't have this information,'' he said.

"If it turns out that there was doping by Rumsas during the Tour, he will lose his position in the standings and be suspended'' from the Tour, Baal said by telephone Monday.

The 1998 Tour de France was nearly derailed by a drug scandal that started with a border check. The Festina team was expelled, and concerns about drugs at the Tour have persisted since.




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