Cycling-Bahrain Victorious riders' and staff's homes searched by police, team says

FILE PHOTO: Cycling - Giro d'Italia - Stage 1 - Budapest to Visegrad, Hungary - May 6, 2022 Team Bahrain - Victorious pose for a photograph before the start of stage 1 REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo

(Reuters) - Police searched the homes of riders and staff of Team Bahrain Victorious ahead of their departure for the Tour de France which starts on Friday, the cycling team said on Monday.

French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into doping allegations against Bahrain Victorious after police searched the outfit's hotel last year.

"The investigation into the members of the team, which started almost a year ago and did not yield any results, continues just before the start of the most important cycling race, the Tour de France," the team said in a statement.

"Due to recent investigations, the team feels the timing of this investigation is aimed at intentionally damaging the team's reputation.

"The house searches experienced today by members from Team Bahrain Victorious represent a continuation of the investigation process that began during the team's successful performances at last year's Tour de France."

Bahrain Victorious won three stages in last year's Tour. Their accommodation was raided following the 17th stage.

At the time, the prosecutor's office in Marseille said the investigation was into "acquisition, transport, possession, import of a prohibited substance or prohibited method for use by an athlete without medical justification".

This year's Tour begins in Copenhagen.

(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; editing by Clare Fallon)

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