By John Trevorrow in Rovereto
After finishing sixth in the 12th stage between Alleghe and Rovereto, Davitamon-Lotto sprinter Robbie McEwen was escorted by the carabinieri to the local police station for questioning about the seizure of the team's hypoxic device two days ago. Although legal under WADA and UCI rules, hypoxic devices are supposedly forbidden under Italian law 376, which prohibits use of any method to increase blood values for sports competition. At the time of the seizure, McEwen denied using the apparatus, but did say that some of his team-mates used it.
"The police from Padova came up and wanted to ask me a couple of questions," he told Cyclingnews after stage 12. "They knew I was going home tomorrow, so they wanted to know if they could ask a couple of questions before I left. They drove me to the police station, asked a couple of questions which I didn't know the answers to anyway. They asked me about the AltiTrainer machine, and who used it, and I said 'I don't know'. Then I came back to the hotel."
Have you used the machine? "No, I haven't used it. I've been to altitude a few times for training and I wasn't that impressed with how I came back after it, so there's no way I'd go in a machine that simulates that anyway. I've had nothing to do with it."
Did you know about the law in Italy? "I'm just racing. I'm not sure what the actual law is, but from what I can gather. Their law says it's forbidden to use the hypobaric chamber, but apparently this machine is not the same thing. I don't know exactly the nature of the machine."
In Australia, most of the football teams use hypobaric chambers: "Yeah, and I'm sure in Italy it's exactly the same, for helping the healing of injuries.
"Like I said to a pommy journalist, it's just another Italian investigation. It's a bit like when Lance comes to Italy to answer all those investigation questions. He answers the questions and just goes home."