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By VeloNews Interactive wire services, Copyright AFP2003
The Lampre team has confirmed that a urine sample submitted by Raimondas Rumsas following Stage 6 of this year’s Giro d’Italia has tested positive for EPO.
Rumsas, who is still awaiting the results of his “B-Sample” test from the Giro, has ridden under a cloud of suspicion ever since his wife was jailed for procession of performance-enhancing drugs on the final day of last year’s Tour de France.
Rumsas finished third in 2002 Tour and was twice tested for drugs in the three-week race. None of those tests came back positive. Nonetheless, Rumsas was the center of a firestorm of controversy on the Tour’s last day after police stopped his wife’s car that morning and discovered an extensive collection of drugs, including EPO, steroids, human growth hormone and substances used as masking agents for other drugs.
She told police at the time that she was taking the drugs back home for her sick mother.
Edita Rumsas was jailed until October, because her husband refused to return to France and face questioning. Upon her release, the two traveled to Lithuania, where he was awarded his country’s highest athletic honor in recognition of his Tour performance.
After an initial suspension, Lampre team officials, decided to keep Rumsas on for the 2003 season despite the controversy. Rumsas, who finished sixth in this year’s Giro, tested positive following the stage between Maddaloni and Avezzano, one day before the race’s first mountain finish.
According to a source close to the test, the 31-year-old Rumsas, who lives in Italy, tested positive for erythropoietin (EPO) and his Lampre team has provisionally suspended him. Should the second sample confirm the positive test, Rumsas’s Giro d’Italia results would be nullified and he would probably face a two-year suspension.
Rumsas has been a professional since 1996 but had to wait till 2000 to ride in the major races.
The Italian team will not be riding in the July 5 to July 27 Tour de France, due in no small part to the controversy surrounding his performance during last year’s Tour.