Riccardo Riccò before CONI, denies blood doping
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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Riccardo Riccò before CONI, denies blood doping

by Shane Stokes at 7:57 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 
Italian “tired of being misunderstood”, vows to continue professional career

Riccardo RiccoRiccardo Riccò had his day in court today [Wednesday], or rather his time in front of the anti-doping prosecutor of the Italian Olympic committee CONI, and steadfastly denied that which an array of medical professionals has said is true: that he performed an autologous blood transfusion in February of this year, a procedure that landed him in hospital in very serious condition.

“We set out our alternative version,” said Riccò’s lawyer Fiorenzo Alessi, according to Tuttobiciweb. “We think we can say there was no autotransfusion.”

Alessi said that the rider was “tired of always being misunderstood,” and Riccò consequently refused to speak to the press outside the CONI offices.

Earlier this month investigators concluded that the rider did indeed undergo a banned blood transfusion in February. This pronouncement was arrived at because of a number of factors, including medical tests confirming an injection of badly-preserved blood, plus the account of the medical staff in the hospital.

There is reportedly eight doctors and nurses who state that Riccò did indeed do that which he is accused of, with some of those saying that he had admitted a transfusion after arriving at the hospital in serious condition.

Riccò previously tested positive for EPO CERA during the 2008 Tour de France, and is therefore liable for a lifetime ban if he is deemed guilty of the latest accusations.

He was due to compete with the Vacansoleil team this season and was days from starting the Tour of the Mediterranean when he fell ill. The team subsequently fired him.

An investigation was launched but stalled in May when medical expert professor Giovanni Beduschi died suddenly due to a heart attack. In June, things started moving again when the prosecutor of Mondena sent the dossier to the anti-doping prosecutor with CONI.

At the same time, Riccò had reversed his stated decision to retire and inked a deal with the small Meridiana-Kamen team. He was planning on riding the Tour of Serbia, but this became impossible when on June 8th, the Commission for Health Protection of the Italian cycling federation decided to suspend his licence.

It said it was doing so in order to safeguard his health. When that initial 60 day ban expired, Dr Francis Plotinus, the president of the National Anti-Doping Tribunal, ordered the suspension to be extended by another 30 days.

That suspension has now expired but, despite Riccò’s statements on Tuesday, it seems doubtful that he will throw his leg over a bike again as a registered pro.

Still, he’s insisting that he’ll go on. “He does not consider himself a rider [this year], said Alessi. “He will not race anymore this season, but he has no plans of stopping.”

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