McQuaid says Vacansoleil staff was naive for signing Riccò
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

McQuaid says Vacansoleil staff was naive for signing Riccò

by Samuel Morrison at 5:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Supports life-time ban for Erythropoietin (EPO) users

The president of cycling's governing body, Pat McQuaid, said team Vacansoleil made a naive decision signing Riccardo Riccò. 

"I'll just say that the leaders of this team were naive," McQuaid told France's L'Equipe newspaper. "If I am the sports director, Riccò never joins my team."
Team Vacansoleil will start the new year with a first division licence and one of cycling's most controversial riders, Riccardo Riccò. He tested positive for blood booster EPO-CERA at the 2008 Tour de France after winning two stages. This year, his bother-in-law, Enrico Rossi was investigated for doping.
The 27-year-old Italian made his comeback from a 20-month doping suspension in March with second division team Ceramica Flaminia. In August, he paid €75,000 to end his contract early and joined Vacansoleil.
McQuaid said he has mixed reactions on riders returning from doping suspensions.
"I have two reactions. A personal response and reaction as the president." said McQuaid. "The president must accept the return of the cheater. OK, but what has he done to repair the damage he has caused to cycling and his sponsor? It irritates me to see the riders come in wanting to make as much money as before. If I was managing a team, I will not allow this. Managers must make every effort to reduce our sport's negative image."
Vacansoleil's General Manager, Daan Luijkx, was surprised to hear McQuaid's comments.
"We have met with the UCI on numerous occasions in connection with our application for a [first division] license," Luijkx told Belgium's Het Nieuwsblad. "The name Riccò never came up once."
Riccò's presence in the team may cause problems. Vacansoleil has one of the 18 first division licences and should race the Tour de France in July. The organiser, though, has a history of not inviting teams with dopers. Astana were unable to race in 2008 due to Alexander Vinokourov's blood doping positive in 2007.
McQuaid explained that he would like to see tougher sentences for the riders, including life-time bans.
"Personally, I support it. But as president of the UCI, I also know that legal problems make it too difficult to implement this measure," he said.
"I am in favour of increasing the duration of the suspension. There should be a four-year ban for those who take EPO. We're going to propose that soon to the national federations and they will need to be on the same line as us.
"We must distinguish between light and heavy products. EPO is serious, it should be four years. Ventolin, for example, it may be six or nine months."

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