The Italian Cycling Federation has announced that it has temporarily suspended Riccardo Riccò from competition, citing concerns over the rider’s health.
A statement from the FCI on Wednesday morning said that the federation’s Health Commission, presided by Dr. Luigi Simonetto, had recommended “suspending the athlete Riccardo Riccò from competitive activity for reasons related to the health of the athlete himself.”
Riccò was hospitalised with a serious kidney ailment in February of this year and was subsequently sacked by his Vacansoleil-DCM team. Last week, he signed for the Meridiana-Kamen Continental team and was planning to return to action at the Tour of Serbia on June 13.
When contacted by Cyclingnews on Wednesday morning, Riccò said that he had not been informed of his suspension.
Modena public prosecutor sends documentation to CONI
Before the announcement of Riccò’s suspension, Gazzetta dello Sport reported on Wednesday morning that the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) had received documentation related to Riccò’s February illness from the public prosecutor in Modena.
It is understood that CONI anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri forwarded the data to a haematologist on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to establish whether Riccò’s condition had been caused by a blood transfusion. Torri was set to request an immediate precautionary suspension for Riccò if evidence of a transfusion was confirmed.
At the time of his hospitalisation in February, Riccò allegedly confessed to a doctor in Pavullo that he had undergone a transfusion with blood that had been stored in his domestic refrigerator for 25 days. The Italian later denied making such a confession.
However, according to Gazzetta’s Luigi Perna, the doctor in Pavullo confirmed his version of events to investigators and said that Riccò was fully conscious at the time of the alleged confession.
Riccò was requested to appear before the Modena public prosecutor Pasquale Mazzei on Monday and again tomorrow, but on each occasion the rider refused to present himself.
A full analysis of all of the medical data related to Riccò’s kidney blockage on behalf of the Modena investigation is expected to be completed before the end of the month. The late Professor Giovanni Beduschi of the University of Modena had been charged with the task but his death last month has delayed proceedings. His colleague Sabino Pelosi, the haematologist Marco Marietta and gastroenterologist Erica Villa are now examining whether Riccò’s illness was caused by the transfusion of incorrectly-stored blood.