Tonight at about 730PM something that has turned into a kind of "tradition" in Italian races happened again. A group of NAS (NAS: Nuclei Anti Sofisticazione, aka Carabinieri's anti-drug squad) raided an hotel where a cycling team was staying.
But unlike last year's (in)famous San Remo raids, and more recent similar events, this time the NAS seemed to have a well-defined target, to know where they had to go and especially what they were looking for.
Better whom: Panaria-Fiordo's Nicola Chesini, the 28-year-old man from Veneto (born in Nogale, near Verona, on January 18, 1974) currently riding the Giro for Bruno Reverberi's team, and having 36 as backnumber.
And just like his Neapolitan (former) teammate Antonio Varriale, arrested three days ago on charges related to selling banned performance-enhancing substances, Mr. Chesini was put under house arrest, according to instructions by Roberto SpanÚ, head of the Brescia anti-doping investigators. The (presumably former) Panaria rider will get back home only after being questioned by investigators in Brescia.
Panaria's Team Director Bruno Reverberi, who saw one of his riders (Giuliano Figueras) sanctioned for doping offence and two more arrested in less than 10 days, said he got no explanations about the reasons behind Chesini's arrest, but thinks it's somehow related to the Varriale affair.
According to latest reports, seems that the Neapolitan rider, now put under house arrest, started to talk and reveal the names of other colleagues involved in the same affair. And new sanctions are reportedly coming: rumours say the third (fourth if you consider Figueras too) victim would be one more Neapolitan, Domenico Romano. The Italian, a former Panaria rider now part of Landbouwkrediet-Colnago, and one of Varriale's best friends, abandoned the Giro after the Strasbourg stage (or 24 hours after Varriale was arrested, if you prefer ...) officially due to wrist problems, but didn't take the plane carrying the riders to Italy.
But bad news are not finished yet: late this evening other rumours came from the "Corsa rosa". According to Italian TV's Teletext two riders taking part in the Giro would have given a "non-negative" results to an anti-doping test. These latest news have not been confirmed, neither denied. More details (hopefully telling it was totally groundless rumours) will definitely come in the next hours anyway.