20th July 2020

Four sanctioned following 2017 death of 21 year old cyclist

A team owner, bike shop owner and two brothers are the latest to be sanctioned as a result of a doping investigation spurred by the death of a 21 year old cyclist in 2017. Italy’s national anti-doping organisation (NADO Italia) sanctioned Luca Franceschi, owner of the Altopack Team, with a 30 year ban from 10 June 2020. His father Narcisso Franceschi, an amateur cyclist who also owned a bike shop, was also sanctioned with a 30 year ban for allowing his property to be used for the administration of doping substances. 

Linus Rumšas, who rode for the Altopack Team, died of a heart attack on 2 May 2017. In 2002 his mother, Edita Rumšienė, had been charged and later imprisoned for possession of corticoids, erythropoietin (EPO), testosterone, growth hormones and anabolic steroids, which were found in her car boot. In May 2003 his father, former professional Raimondas Rumšas, tested positive for EPO, and served a one year ban. 

Following the death of Linus Rumšas in 2017, police searched the family home and it is understood that prohibited substances were seized. In February 2018, his older brother, Raimondas Rumšas Junior, was sanctioned with a four year ban after returning an adverse analytical finding for GHRP-6, a growth hormone.

Also in 2018, following further raids on properties owned by the Franceschis, Italian police arrested Luca Franceschi and Elso Frediani, Altopack Directeur Sportif, former trainer Michele Viola and Pharmacist Andrea Bianchi. All were accused of supplying drugs to cyclists.

Police said that their investigations uncovered a “real partnership aimed at facilitating doping practices”, reported Cycling News. Police said that Franceschi “recruited the most promising cyclists, motivated them to take drugs and procured doping substances for them, including EPO in microdoses”.

Niko and Yuri Colonna, both of which rode for the Altopack Team, have also been sanctioned. Niko has been sanctioned with a four year ban from 17 July 2020. His younger brother Yuri, a member of the Zalf Euromobil Desiree Fior u23 cycling team, has been sanctioned with a four year ban from the same date. It is understood that a four year sanction, issued to Matteo Alban last week, was also in connection to investigations by NADO Italia and Police, as Alban also rode for Altopack. 

Andrea Bianchi, the pharmacist arrested in 2018 who is also an amateur cyclist, has been sanctioned with a seven year ban. His sanction involves violations of Articles 2.2 and 2.7 of Italy’s Norme Sportive Antidoping (NSA), which cover use/attempted use/attempted administration of a prohibited substance, and trafficking. Further sanctions are expected to be announced in the coming days. 

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