Riccardo Riccò reported as taking out a Croatian racing licence for 2012
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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Riccardo Riccò reported as taking out a Croatian racing licence for 2012

by Shane Stokes at 11:34 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Could rider be trying to evade CONI disciplinary action?

Riccardo RiccoWith less than two weeks to go before he is due to appear before the national anti-doping tribunal called by Italian Olympic Committee CONI, it appears that Riccardo Riccò may be attempting to sidestep the process.

According to Biciciclismo, the controversial Italian has taken out a license with the Croatian cycling federation, thus moving away from his own national federation.

The small Meridiana Kamen team is reported as being part of the application. Riccò transferred to the squad last year after he was dropped by the Vacansoleil team, and intended to begin racing with it in the Tour of Serbia in mid-June.

However that became impossible when on June 8th, the Commission for Health Protection of the Italian cycling federation decided to suspend his licence on health grounds. That initial 60 day ban was later extended by another 30 days by Dr Francis Plotinus, the president of the National Anti-Doping Tribunal, ensuring he couldn’t race again before the end of the season.

Riccò has said on numerous occasions that he wants to return to racing. The news that he has taken out a licence with the Croatian federation is clearly a move on his part to try to compete again.

It remains to be seen how CONI, the Italian federation and the UCI will respond.

Back in hot water:

Riccò was originally handed a lengthy ban after he tested positive for CERA during the 2008 Tour de France. He returned to racing in March 2010 with the Ceramica Flaminia team. He transferred to the Vacansoleil DCM squad later that year, then last season started off strongly when he was seventh in the GP d'Ouverture La Marseillaise.

He was due to lead the team in the Tour of the Mediterranean but days before it began, he was hospitalized in serious condition. He allegedly told medical staff that he had transfused blood which had been stored in his refrigerator for 25 days.

That admission led to the CONI action and his appearance before a disciplinary panel in mid-September. There, Riccò denied doping and said the hospital staff were lying in suggesting otherwise. Instead, he claimed that he infused iron to treat low blood levels.

In order to determine the truth, an immuno-haematologist, a specialist in infectious diseases and a nephrologist, or kidney doctor were appointed to study his case. The trio, the professors Giancarlo Isacchi, Giuseppe Gentile and Sandro Feriozzi, reached their decision in mid-December and submitted it to Plotinus.

He set a date of January 9th for Riccò and his legal team to make their responses. CONI stated earlier this month that the counter-claims were submitted six days earlier on January 3rd, and would then be sent to the WADA and UCI. Also being sent was information relating to the appointment of the three medical experts.

The hearing is due to be held on February 3rd. If found guilty, Riccò faces a lengthy ban from the sport. However his move to another federation means that the situation has taken an unexpected twist.


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