Ricco fired from Vacansoleil with immediate effect over doping case
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Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ricco fired from Vacansoleil with immediate effect over doping case

by Shane Stokes at 6:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Dutch team drops controversial climber

Riccardo RiccoOne day after being released from hospital, Italian climber Riccardo Riccò has been sacked from the Vacansoleil team on the grounds that he has violated the team’s regulations in relation to anti-doping.

The Dutch squad has announced that he was fired with immediate effect today. “Last Tuesday February 8th the team started an internal investigation regarding the hospitalization of Mr. Ricco,” it said in a statement. “This investigation leaded to a suspension of the rider. Following the suspension the investigation was continued and Riccò got the opportunity to reflect his point of view on the matter.

“Subsequent to all this, Riccò was fired on the spot today. The breach of internal rules and other indications justify this measure. Today Riccò was informed on the dismissal by a registered letter.”

The 26 year old Italian climber was hospitalised a fortnight ago after what has been widely reported as a botched auto-transfusion. He is alleged to have reinfused a bag of his own blood which had been stored in a refrigerator for 25 days; the poor quality of that caused a toxic reaction in his body which apparently nearly killed him.

He has been recovering since then, being treated with steroids and antibiotics due to heart and lung infections. As a result of the case, the team’s ProTeam licence is reportedly being re-evaluated by the UCI, and there is a chance it could be demoted.

The Dutch squad is keen to show that this is an isolated incident and yesterday announced that it had put Ezequiel Mosquera on non-active status due to his own situation. Riccòs firing follows this and is doubtlessly intended to show the UCI that it doesn’t deserve to be demoted.

“The team outlines that it follows a zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of doping,” it states. Mosquera is also certain to be fired if a final ruling finds him guilty.

Riccò is being investigated by Italian authorities and faces both a lifetime ban plus a possible prison sentence. He already served a 20 month suspension due to CERA use in the 2008 Tour de France. He had vowed to race clean after his return to the sport.


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