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Europol revealed new details into the scope and reach of its high-profile raids ahead of the 2022 Tour de France.
Europol made a full statement Friday in relation to the raids and seizure of medication and electronic equipment following a string of raids targeting the Bahrain Victorious team.
According to the agency an ongoing investigation is centered on “prohibited substances in cycling races.”
Eurojust, an organisation that works alongside Europol stated that “in Slovenia, 412 capsules with undetermined brown content and 67 capsules with undetermined white content were found, and one mobile phone was seized in a house search.”
Between June 27-30 some 14 locations were searched across six countries. That includes the dawn raids that took place Thursday at the Bahrain Victorious hotel on the eve of the Tour de France. The Europol news is the second confirmation that medicines and electronic equipment had been seized during the raids. Earlier in the week the Bahrain Victorious team stated that no property had been taken. The team has denied any wrongdoing and has not been charged with any offences.
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“Law enforcement and judicial authorities in France, Belgium, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia have carried out a coordinated action against the use of prohibited substances in cycling races.
“Based on a request from the French authorities, the Danish Police have also carried out searches at one of the Tour de France hotels in Copenhagen. The international activity was coordinated by Europol and Eurojust,” read the statement.
“The investigation was led by the French OCLAESP under the supervision of the French Public Prosecutor’s Office in Marseille to look into possible doping allegations of a cycling team participating in the Tour de France. Three people were interrogated. The investigation is ongoing and the evidence seized is being forensically examined. The properties of several riders and their staff were searched in Belgium, Spain, Croatia, Italy, Poland and Slovenia.”
A dozen Europol investigators were part of the operation but there was collaboration from several international bodies, including the PPO PSPE (Public Health and Environment Division) of Marseille and OCLAESP (Central Office against Environmental and Public Health Crime), the Federal Prosecutor’s Office and the Federal Judicial Police of Brussels, the Copenhagen Police, the Investigative Court num. 8 in Alicante, Spain; the International Cooperation Section of the Prosecutor’s Office in Alicante; the Judicial Police Unit of Policía Nacional in Alicante, the County State Attorney’s Office in Rijeka, Croatia, the PPO Brescia and Carabinieri for the Protection of Public Health (NAS) Units of Brescia, Roma and Ragusa in Italy, the Circuit Prosecutor’s Office and City Police in Łódź, Poland, and the District Court and Slovenian Police.
On Thursday evening, following the claim by Bahrain Victorious that no materials had been seized the French public prosector’s office hit back, stating that: “electronic equipment (telephones, computers, hard drives) and medicines whose nature and origin are still unknown. All items seized will be further investigated and analyzed.”
Following Thursday’s raids in Copenhagen the team released a statement in which they clearly stated that no equipment or medical products had been seized. The same claim was not made after the first round of searches on June 27.
“Following the police search into some staff and riders’ homes on Monday, the Team Bahrain Victorious hotel was searched by Danish Police at the request of the French Prosecutors this morning at 5:30 am,” the team said Thursday morning.
“The officers searched all team vehicles, staff and riders’ rooms. The team fully cooperated with all the officers’ requests, and the search was completed within two hours. No items were seized from the team. Following the police search, the team is now looking forward to focusing on the world’s biggest and best cycling race, Tour de France.”