Riccò’s return to competition blocked by Italian federation
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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Riccò’s return to competition blocked by Italian federation

by VeloNation Press at 6:35 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Investigation into alleged doping appears to be moving forward once more

Riccardo RiccoFive days before he was scheduled to return to racing with the small Meridiana-Kamen team, moves are being made to stop the Italian rider Riccardò Riccò from lining out in the Tour of Serbia on Monday.

The UCI told VeloNation yesterday that it couldn’t prevent the rider from competing in the event, but his national federation has now stepped in and said that he cannot take part.

This morning the Commission for Health Protection of the Italian federation FCI decided to suspend his licence, saying it was doing so to protect the health of the athlete.

It is expected that Riccò will have to undergo a complete medical examination. He was hospitalised in February in a very serious condition due to reported kidney failure; at the time it was said that Riccò had admitted to transfusing blood which had been stored in his refrigerator for 25 days.

He’s since denied confessing to doctors, and said that he had kidney problems completely unrelated to doping. His current medical condition will now be examined.

Given the embarrassment to the federation that a rider said to be closely related to doping can simply carry on, it is possible that today’s decision is also a mechanism to keep him sidelined until his case is clarified.

Meanwhile, it appears that a stall in the investigation is coming to an end and things are moving forward again. The CONI prosecutor was waiting for a file from the prosecutor’s office in Modena, but this has been affected by the death of professor Giovanni Beduschi last month due to a heart attack. He was in charge of the analysis of the case.

According to La Gazetta dello Sport, the dossier has now been passed forward from the prosecutor of Mondena to the anti-doping prosecutor with CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee. Other medial experts are now involved in examining his medical file and are seeking to determine if it was indeed a botched blood transfusion which caused his sudden illness.

The UCI indicated to VeloNation yesterday that it would wait and see what emerges from the Italian enquiry.

“We know that this rider is implicated in an investigation on a national level but it is impossible at the current time to anticipate the outcome,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani said. “The UCI will monitor the development of this situation in order to be ready to take all the relevant action, if necessary.”

Riccò has already served a lengthy suspension for doping during the 2008 Tour de France. If he is found guilty of a blood transfusion, he’ll be facing a likely lifetime ban from the sport.

His previous team, Vacansoleil-DCM, fired him one day after he emerged from hospital in February. It cited the ‘breach of internal rules and other indications’ as its reason.

He then entered into talks with the Amore & Vita team to potentially return with it. The team laid out strict conditions that he should follow, but he then ended discussions soon afterwards. Team owner Cristian Fanini told VeloNation this week that the team felt ‘a little cheated’ by how things had happened.


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