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Vuelta winner González arrested on fraud charges

(Image credit: Unipublic)

2002 Vuelta a España champion Aitor González has been arrested by Spanish police on suspicion of trying to defraud a bank out of 1,500 euros. The former Kelme, Fassa Bortolo and Euskaltel rider was detained along with two other men, reported to be the president and the administrator of a tenants’ association of a building in the Spanish city of León.

These two men, who are brothers, are said to have falsified documents in order to open a bank account in the name of the tenants’ association and then withdrew money from the bank based on false receipts for work on the building that had not been carried out. Suspecting that something was amiss, the bank contacted the police in León, who arrested one of the brothers.

It was discovered that the other brother was living in the southern city of Alicante, just 30km from Benidorm where the 2011 Vuelta starts on Saturday. A request was sent to police in Alicante to detain the second brother. When police arrived at the address they had been given on Wednesday [August 17], they saw González coming out of the house. Seeing them, González attempted to flee but was quickly apprehended.

The police searched the 2002 Vuelta winner and found a number of falsified documents linking him to the alleged offences, including a contract relating to the establishment of an association and blank tax and telephone bills. Police arrested the second brother the following day and charged him with document fraud and identity theft.

Among other documents and equipment seized during a search of the second brother’s home were 19 bank cards, a printer and scanner, two computers, two chequebooks and a Russian passport, as well 400 other documents in a variety of different names.

According to the police in Alicante, González has been released but is due to be called before a judge. The other man has already appeared in court and prosecutors have asked for him to be imprisoned.

This is the third time that González has been arrested since he was forced out of cycling after being banned for two years following a positive drug test. In August 2007 he was detained after driving through a red light. Subsequent tests showed that he had been drinking and had taken cocaine. In January 2008, he was arrested after hiring three men to assault two businessmen from a real estate agency in Elche who owed him money.

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Peter Cossins has written about professional cycling since 1993 and is a contributing editor to Procycling. He is the author of The Monuments: The Grit and the Glory of Cycling's Greatest One-Day Races (Bloomsbury, March 2014) and has translated Christophe Bassons' autobiography, A Clean Break (Bloomsbury, July 2014).