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Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Flash for January 14, 2004

Edited by Jeff Jones

Sassone arrested in French drugs case

Rutkiewicz suspended by team

French police have arrested another ex-Cofidis rider - dual track World Champion Robert Sassone - in relation to the latest cycling doping investigation in France. Wednesday's edition of L'Equipe reported that police searched Sassone's home in Hyères, finding a significant quantity of illegal drugs, including "amphetamines, erythropoetin (EPO), growth hormone, testosterone and other anabolic steroids."

Sassone rode professionally with Cofidis for four years before joining St Quentin-Oktos this year. He won the World Madison Championship in 2001 and the World Scratch Race Championship in 2002.

The quantities of drugs present led L'Equipe to speculate that they were more than for just "personal use", and Sassone is suspected of being involved in a larger drug trafficking ring which has Bogdan Madejak, a Cofidis soigneur, as its leader. Madejak, together with his wife and one of his daughters, a pharmacist, have also been placed in police custody, where they remained on Wednesday morning. Another of Madejak's daughters was released on Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, ex-Cofidis rider Marek Rutkiewicz has been suspended by his new RAGT Semences-MG Rover team, pending the outcome of the investigation. Rutkiewicz was the first rider to be arrested in the affair when he was stopped by police at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Monday, allegedly in possession of banned drugs. Cofidis' team headquarters were also raided by police on Monday, but no banned substances were found.

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