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Thumbs up for Riccardo Riccò (Vacansoleil)
Tuscan police catch disgraced climber red handed
Riccardo Riccò has been accused of buying EPO and testosterone after being caught red handed with two dealers by Italian police in a car park in the Tuscan town of Livorno, according to reports in Italian media.
Ricco was banned for 12 years in 2011 after being rushed to hospital apparently following a botched blood transfusion. The controversial Italian climber had been planning to attack a series of records on well known cycling climbs such as Mont Ventoux but is now facing charges of receiving banned substances and dealing in banned substances. Doping is a crime in Italy.
According to a report on the Il Tirreno website, Ricco was caught with another local professional on Tuesday afternoon after collecting a bag containing 30 doses of drugs in the car park of an out of town McDonalds, north of Livorno. The two dealers are from Livorno, with one working in a local hospital.
The NAS, the branch of police specialising in drugs and health and safety, said in a press conference that 30 doses of drugs were seized during the operation which began in the nearby town of Lucca, with a further 100 doses and large sum of cash discovered during a search of the two dealers' homes.
Ricco won stages at the Giro d'Italia and was the best young rider in 2008 but tested positive for the blood-boosting drug CERA during that year's Tour de France. He served a two-year ban and made a comeback in 2010 but his career ended when he was rushed to hospital in 2011.
He was suspended for 12 years but continued to ride a bike, was invited to take part in several Gran Fondo events and announced his record attempts on cycling biggest climbs.
Ricco did not answer his phone when contacted by Cyclingnews.