The head of the Italian Cycling Federation’s Health Commission has explained that the FCI decided to hand Riccardo Riccò a precautionary suspension because they have no evidence that the rider has recovered from the kidney failure that saw him hospitalised in February.
Riccò, who was sacked by Vacansoleil-DCM after allegedly confessing that his illness was caused by a blood transfusion, was set to return to racing at next week’s Tour of Serbia in the colours of Meridiana-Kamen. On Wednesday morning, the FCI announced that Riccò has been placed under suspension for health reasons.
Dr. Luigi Simonetto told Tuttobiciweb.it that the FCI’s Health Commission reached its decision on Riccò’s suspension “by applying what is the standard procedure in these cases, which is naturally valid for all riders.”
“We know that Riccò had a serious health problem and the moment he expressed his desire to return to racing, we had the obligation to verify his physical condition,” Simonetto said. “At the moment, we have not received any document that attests to his regained fitness for sporting activity.”
Simonetto pointed out that the onus is on Riccò to offer the federation proof that he is healthy enough to compete. “Paradoxically, however, it’s a problem that the rider could solve tomorrow, if he wanted to,” he explained.
The Croatian-registered Meridiana-Kamen team competes at Continental level, meaning that Riccò is not subject to UCI biological passport testing while registered to the squad. As an Italian rider, however, the FCI was able to intervene in his case, and Simonetto was sceptical about the possibility of Riccò attempting to circumvent his suspension by registering for a racing licence abroad.
“For us, the rider is to all intents and purposes Italian, but I will allow myself to say that I would like to see who could authorise him to race without first ascertaining his complete physical recovery,” Simonetto said.