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Raimondas Rumsas was arrested on Wednesday by Italian police acting on a warrant issued in May 2004 by a French magistrate after returning to the country from his homeland of Lithuania. Rumsas, who won his national time trial title and finished runner-up in the road race last weekend, has been wanted for questioning in France since he left the country at the end of the 2002 Tour de France, having finished third overall.
As Rumsas was being feted in Paris three years ago, his wife, Edita, was stopped at the Chamonix border crossing by French customs officials. A subsequent search of the Rumsas family car turned up 37 medical products, a number of them on the International Cycling Union's proscribed list. Edita Rumsas spent 75 days in a French prison, while her husband refused to return to France to answer questions about the case.
Rumsas was arrested at his home at Lunata di Lucca in Tuscany after a European-wide warrant was issued by the prosecutor in the French town of Bonneville, Vincent Le Pannerer, who is overseeing the case. Rumsas is currently being held in Lucca. Extradition proceedings have now begun, and these are likely to see Rumsas returned to France to answer charges stemming from the 2002 case.
A spokesman for the Lithuanian cycling federation said they would do all they could to help Rumsas. "We haven't had any direct information on this affair, but of course if it is all confirmed we will look into how we can help him out," federation secretary-general Antanas Taucius told AFP. "Rumsas was so happy after the national championships last weekend after winning a gold medal and a silver."
Rumsas tested positive for the blood-booster EPO after finishing sixth at the 2003 Giro d'Italia. He was subsequently banned for a year by his national federation, but returned to competition at the end of last season with the Polish Action-ATI team. Rumsas has won a number of Gran Fondo events in Italy this season riding for the Elite 2 Park Pre-Guru-Selle Italia team.
Rumsas and his wife could face a prison sentence of three years and a fine of double the value of the products found in their car if found guilty of trafficking offences. Proceedings against the pair and a Polish doctor, Krysztof Fisek, who prescribed the products found, are expected to start this autumn.
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