Italian police search homes of Petacchi and Bernucci

Banned substances may have been found at Bernucci's home

Italian police have searched the houses of Lampre-Farnese Vini riders Alessandro Petacchi and Lorenzo Bernucci as part of an investigation, with several banned drugs apparently found in Bernucci's house according to a report on the website of the La Repubblica newspaper.

The searches were carried on Bernucci's home in the Tuscan town of Quarrata near Florence and at Petacchi's home near the Tuscan coast.

They were done by the Italian Guardia di Finanza that usually investigates financial cases. However this could be because Petacchi has been linked to a major fraud case in Milan and is suspected of not paying tax on money earned outside of Italy.

The Lampre-Farnese Vini team said Bernucci pulled out of the Tour of Flanders on Friday due to a temperature but he had already been told of the search by his wife.

According to the story published by La Repubblica, several banned substances were allegedly found in Bernucci's home. These included Albumin, which can be used to dilute blood and so lower haematocrit levels, Sibutramine, an appetite suppressant, and several phials of other drugs from outside of Italy that were taken away to be analysed.

The report suggested Bernucci could be suspended by the Lampre-Farnese Vini team, although there was no immediate reaction from the team when contacted by Cyclingnews on Sunday afternoon. He could also be banned for two years for possession of illegal doping products and face penal charges because doping is a crime in Italy.

Bernucci has already served a ban after failing a test for Sibutramine in 2007 when he was riding for the T-Mobile team. He claimed at the time that he did no know the drug had just been added to the WADA list of banned substances. He made a comeback with the tiny Cinelli team and then joined close friend and frequent training partner Alessandro Petacchi at LPR Brakes in 2009. Both riders moved to Lampre-Farnese Vini for this season.

There are no reports on the outcome of the police search of Petacchi's home.

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