Riccò sidesteps ban to ride Italian Gran Fondo
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Friday, April 27, 2012

Riccò sidesteps ban to ride Italian Gran Fondo

by Shane Stokes at 5:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Controversy in Gran Fondo San Marino

Riccardo RiccoRiccardo Riccò has gone to considerable lengths to try to keep riding since he became embroiled in a doping controversy last year, seeking to race with a small Croatian team last June, being blocked by the Italian federation, then trying unsuccessfully to take out a Croatian licence this year.

Handed a twelve year ban for blood doping eight days ago, the Italian wasted no time in shrugging off the ruling, lining out in the Granfondo San Marino on Sunday.

While Gran Fondos are not UCI world-ranked events, and although the Gran Fondo San Marino is not on the UCI’s new World Cycling Tour Gran Fondo calendar, Libertas.sm said that Riccò’s participation in Sunday’s race caused a panicked reaction from the organizers. They reportedly felt that they could be liable for some form of sanction if he was allowed continue.

Libertas.sm states that he initially rode at the back of the front group but when the road started climbing, moved passed riders who were slipping back.

Some entrants complained and the organisers instructed Riccò to withdraw. He refused, then a motorbike policeman drove into the group and demanded that he stop.

This led to varied responses, with some riders agreeing and others defending the 2007 Giro d’Italia runner-up against what they felt was an over-the-top reaction. Organisers said that the race would be stopped if the rider didn’t desist.

One participant drew parallels between Riccò and the late Marco Pantani plus Frank Vandenbroucke. “I don’t want Riccardo to end up the same way,” he said.

Riccò was originally suspended in 2008 after testing positive for CERA. Handed a lengthy ban, he returned and said that he’s prove he could win clean. However last February he was hospitalized and reportedly admitted to medical staff that he’d given himself a blood transfusion.

That sparked off a lengthy process which reached a conclusion last Thursdsay. He was given a twelve year suspension, as well as a penalty of €5,000 plus legal costs of €15,000.

Concerns have been expressed by some about how Riccò will cope without cycling. He’s clearly thrown away his second chance at the sport, but Sunday’s participation reinforces the feeling that he won’t willingly walk away.

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