Pubdate: Sat, 09 Jun 2001
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2001 Los Angeles Times
Author: Associated Press
Bookmark: (Drug Raids)


ROME--Professional cyclists throughout Europe on Friday condemned the
sweeping drug raid at the Giro d'Italia in which police searched the
hotel rooms of riders.

The raid at the seaside city of San Remo comes a month before the Tour
de France, the showcase race that was thrown into chaos in 1998
because of police raids.

The International Cycling Union described the latest raid as
"deplorable" and "excessive." The search of the rooms and vehicles of
all 20 teams began Wednesday night. It lasted until 4 a.m. Thursday.

The race resumed Friday, with Mario Cipollini winning the stage and
second-place rider Dario Frigo pulling out after the stage.

"The fight against doping has never been as intensive and effective as
it is today," the cyclists' union said. It noted that it recently
became the first sports federation to use blood tests to detect the
banned substance EPO.

About 400 police officers participated in the raid. They searched
drawers, suitcases and refrigerators.

The raid comes as cycling was beginning to reestablish its
credibility, led by cancer survivor Lance Armstrong and his
consecutive Tour de France victories.

Italian authorities began the raid after evidence was left behind in
hotels at an earlier stage. They defended their actions, contending
the evening before a tough stage is prime for using banned substances.

Paramilitary police who conducted the raids said they seized some 200
packages of medicine, including stimulants, anabolic steroids and
corticosteroids, as well as used syringes, the Italian news agency
ANSA reported. 
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