Tour de France Cycling News Flash for July 13, 2005
Edited by Jeff Jones
Frigo busted, out of Tour
By Cyclingnews staff
Fassa Bortolo rider Dario Frigo was taken into custody before the start
of today's 11th stage of the Tour de France after performance-enhancing
drugs were found in his wife's car. Customs officials and local police
searched the vehicle near Chambery earlier today, with initial reports
suggesting that ten vials of EPO had been discovered.
At around 8.15 this morning police called to the team's Mercure hotel
in Courchevel, arresting the 31 year old Italian and taking him into custody.
Frigo had been lying 52nd overall, 20 minutes and 32 seconds behind race
leader Lance Armstrong.
Frigo's Fassa Bortolo management confirmed the arrest in a team statement,
but were quick to distance themselves from the bust. "This is an isolated
incident which has nothing to do with the team," they said.
Cyclingnews spoke to Fabian Cancellara before the 11th stage,
who told us that Frigo had been taken away by police at 8:00am this morning.
"There's only speculation around right now," he said. "Everything needs
to be confirmed. It looks like it's a private affair; it doesn't concern
Tour de France organiser Jean Marie Leblanc told Reuters that
he did not know how many doping products were found. "We deeply regret
this case which concerns a rider who has already had brushes with the
police and the sport's authorities," he added.
"He belongs to a generation of riders who just won't learn. That generation
has to leave as soon as possible to be replaced by a generation of riders
who respect the rules."
Fellow race director Christian Prudhomme said that the Fassa Bortolo
team boss Bruno Cenghialta had assured him it was an isolated incident.
"They are at loss to explain what happened and they insist the team has
nothing to do with it," he said. "Those who cheat must be excluded from
the race. Those people have nothing to look for in the Tour de France."
Frigo previously had a run-in with sporting authorities in 2001. He
was ejected from that year's Giro d'Italia after a surprise police raid
uncovered doping substances in his hotel room. He was subsequently banned
for six months.
Today's case has clear parallels with another doping scandal in 2002,
when the wife of Lithuanian Raimondas Rumsas was arrested by French customs
officers with drugs in her car. Rumsas finished third in the Tour that
year. The couple will go on trial this November on charges relating to
However there is a slight difference, according to early reports. "This
is not the same as the Rumsas case. We haven't found as many drugs."
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