The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) has handed down a 24-month suspension to Riccardo Riccò after he tested positive for a new Erythropoietin (EPO) drug, Mircera, during the 2008 Tour de France. He received 18 months for using EPO and an additional six months for having consulted Doctor Carlo Santuccione.
Riccò won two stages of this year's Tour de France before being ejected from the race after his positive test. He first denied having used the drug, but later admitted to his transgression. He named Santuccione as his supplier in a hearing in August. Santuccione, known as "Ali the chemist", was banned for life from working with athletes for his involvement in the 'Oil for Drugs' scandal.
Mircera, or Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator (CERA), was thought to be undetectable in urine, but the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) had clandestinely developed a test for it prior to the Tour de France. Riccò had been targeted for additional testing after his pre-Tour blood values showed abnormal values.
The AFLD is examining the blood of other riders from this year's Tour de France who showed suspicious results on the urine test for CERA, but could not be declared positive.