Riccardo Riccò has reportedly signed a contract with Meridiana-Kamen and is set to return to competitive action with the Continental outfit at the Tour of Serbia on June 13.
“Riccardo has been working with us for the last ten days,” Meridiana-Kamen manager Antonio Giallorenzo told Tuttobiciweb.it. “He’s tranquillo, he has signed the contract and is preparing himself with great intensity.
“Today we will confirm the agreement and there will be the first photos of Riccò in the Meridiana jersey. Our intention is to have him make his debut at the Tour of Serbia, which takes place between June 13 and 16.”
The controversial Riccò had been linked with a return to action in the colours of Amore e Vita in recent days, but Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Wednesday that he has been training with the Croatian-registered Meridiana squad in Polla, southern Italy in the past week.
Riccò has not raced since February, when he was rushed to hospital suffering from kidney problems. He allegedly informed medical staff at the time that he had performed an autologous transfusion with blood that he had stored for 25 days in a domestic fridge.
The Italian was fired by his Vacansoleil-DCM team shortly afterwards, but after initially distancing himself from the sport, he voiced his desire to return to action in April.
Riccò was questioned by CONI on the matter in Rome in April, while police in Modena have also been investigating the circumstances that led to his sudden illness. Having previously served a 20-month suspension after testing positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France, Riccò could face a life ban if found guilty of a further infraction.
Even if the Meridiana deal is confirmed, Riccò is unlikely to be able to line up at the Italian national championships in Sicily at the end of June. The Italian federation is expected to introduce a rule barring riders who have served doping suspensions from participating in the championships, meaning that Riccò would not be able to line up in Aci Catena.