Authorities in Italy carried out a search of the Brescia home of RadioShack’s Yaroslav Popovych on Thursday.
According to a report in Saturday’s La Gazzetta dello Sport, police from the Guardia di Finanza di Padova and Carabinieri from Brescia and Florence acted on a search warrant issued by Padova prosecutor Benedetto Roberti. Roberti has been heading an investigation into the use of performance-enhancing substances in sport.
The paper cited unnamed sources, who reported that police seized “substances currently being examined by investigators.”
Popovych had recently returned from a trip to the United States, originally intended as a brief visit to Austin, Texas, in order to participate in the annual Ride for the Roses fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. While in Austin, however, Popovych was served with a subpoena and ordered to appear before a federal grand jury in Los Angeles.
On November 3, Popovych made a 90-minute appearance before the grand jury, which was convened to investigate allegations of wide-spread doping on the U.S. Postal, Discovery Channel, Astana and RadioShack teams of seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.
According to Popovych’s attorney, the Ukrainian cyclist had little to offer the grand jury, insisting that he had no knowledge of doping on any of the teams on which he’s ridden with Armstrong.
Roberti’s office has not yet issued a statement, so it is remains unclear as to whether the search is in any way connected to the U.S. investigation.
A former under-23 world road champion, Popovych began his professional career as a member of the Landbouwkrediet team in 2002. While a member of the team, he finished third in the 2003 Giro d’Italia and fifth the following year.
He joined the Discovery Channel team in 2005, serving as a top lieutenant for Armstrong’s final Tour de France win that year and Alberto Contador’s first, in 2007. Following the demise of the Discovery team, he moved to Silence-Lotto to ride in support of Cadel Evans. Popovych moved to Astana in 2009 and followed Armstrong to RadioShack in 2010.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Doug Miller or Food and Drug Administration Criminal Division investigator Jeff Novitzky had already been investigating the distribution of performance-enhancing drugs in cycling, when former Postal rider Floyd Landis leveled allegations against Armstrong and other members of the team earlier this year.
Armstrong has consistently denied suggestions that his success in cycling was based on the use of performance-enhancing drugs, often describing himself as “the most tested athlete in the world.”