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89th Tour de France - Grand Tour
France, July 6-28, 2002
Tour de France news for July 31, 2002
Edited by Jeff Jones
Edita Rumsiene officially under investigation
Products were for her mother
Edita Rumsiene, the wife of Lithuanian rider Raimondas Rumsas, has been put under formal investigation in and remains in provisional detention in Bonneville, after French customs officials discovered a "large quantity of medical products" in her car last Sunday. The products mentioned include EPO, testosterone, growth hormone and anabolic and cortico steroids. Mrs Rumsas is now suspected of "administration, supplying, transporting and aiding the usage of doping products."
Raimondas Rumsas was quoted in La Gazzetta dello Sport as saying "I've never taken anything. My performance in the Tour de France was clean. I don't know anything."
When questioned about the drugs, Rumsas claimed that "I have not had a chance to speak with my wife. But the products were intended to be taken to Lithuania for my mother-in-law, Yakstenia."
In El Mundo, he was quoted as saying "She is not my doctor and does not supply me with medicine. She only accompanied me on the Tour because she is my biggest fan. She has never hidden anything from me. If it is true that she was carrying all that in the car, then she will have to explain it to me when she is released from custody."
According to Bonneville prosecutor Vincent Le Pennerer, Edita Rumsiene "gave some explanations on the origin and the usage of the medicines found in her vehicle. These explanations remain incomplete and certainly not very credible. In any case, they necessitate many further investigations."
Her lawyer, Veronique Coudray told journalists in Bonneville that "She has said she was transporting these medical products for her family."
Rumsas is currently in Italy, but will return to France to answer questions. "He wants to explain that his wife cannot be used as a hostage," said his lawyer Pierre-Louis Pilloix.
Four controls during the Tour
Raimondas Rumsas underwent four anti-doping controls during the Tour, two of which were random and were taken on the second rest day in Vaison-la-Romaine, following Stage 14 to Mont Ventoux. The first of these was a blood test in the morning, the second a urine test in the afternoon.
His Lampre-Daikin director Pietro Algeri explained to L'Equipe that "The first one revealed an abnormal rise in his hematocrit level. In such cases, the UCI inspectors demand a second test for verification."
The urine test was negative for EPO, which means that Rumsas could not have taken artificial EPO within the previous 72 hours, the effective range of the test.
Rumsas started in Luxembourg with a hematocrit of 46, but this had risen to 47.8 at the time of the Vaison-la-Romaine test, after two weeks of intense racing. This is opposite to physiological norms, where a rider's hematocrit will generally drop over the course of a stage race.
Algeri added, "Rumsas suffered from dysentery, he was dehydrated [note: the Mont Ventoux stage was raced in 33 degree conditions], that had an effect on his blood parameters."
Lampre's team doctor Jose Ibarguren told Spanish newspaper Marca that did not give Rumsas any banned products. "I can only say what I gave him, and they were all legal products just like those given to the rest of the team. What I don't know is what he may have taken on his own."
So far, all of the anti-doping controls taken during the Tour up until July 24 have returned negative results. If Rumsas tests positive in any of the subsequent tests, then he will be stripped of his third place and sacked by his Lampre-Daikin team. If he tests negative throughout the Tour, then there will have to be proof that he was involved in a doping affair before his third place is taken away.
However, his wife appears to be in a spot of difficulty.