German prosecutors investigate Schumacher for fraud

10th October 2008, Comments 0 comments

The 27-year-old's house was already searched on Tuesday with items taken away to be evaluated as possible evidence, officials said.

Stuttgart -- German cyclist Stefan Schumacher is to be investigated for fraud after failing a dope test, Stuttgart prosecutors confirmed Thursday.

The 27-year-old's house was already searched on Tuesday with items taken away to be evaluated as possible evidence, a spokeswoman for the Stuttgart prosecutor's office told DPA.

On Wednesday, the French anti-doping agency AFLD said in a statement that Schumacher tested positive twice for the newest version of the EPO blood-booster, CERA (Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator), at the Tour de France in July.

Schumacher, who made no statement during the search of his home, will have the opportunity to give his side of the story in the investigation into whether he fraudulently deceived his Gerolsteiner team.

Prosecutors have also looked at documents belonging to Gerolsteiner team principal Hans-Michael Holczer.

Schumacher won both individual time trials at the Tour and was the overall leader of the race for two days. He faces a two-year ban if found guilty of doping.

The German cycling federation BDR and the country's national anti- doping agency NADA have also launched investigations, with the BDR on Monday giving Schumacher a five-day deadline to explain himself.

Schumacher has already been suspended by his Gerolsteiner team but the rider's lawyer Michael Lehner criticized the doping procedures surrounding the retests at the French laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry.

"It is completely unclear, according to the documents available, under what circumstances and which blood samples returned apparently positive results for CERA in the laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry," he said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Schumacher's Gerolsteiner teammate Sebastian Lang told the radsport-news Internet site that the cyclist had been asked if his team should "be worried".

"Stefan reassured us that everything was in order," he said.

DPA/Expatica

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