The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has requested a twelve-year ban for Riccardo Riccò after examining the report of an investigation by public prosecutors in Modena. Riccò's case has been formally referred to CONI's anti-doping tribunal.
Riccò was hospitalised with kidney problems in February of this year, allegedly as a result of transfusing incorrectly-stored blood. ANSA yesterday reported that Riccò had confessed to undergoing a blood transfusion in a written statement to prosecutors in Modena, although his lawyer Fiorenzo Alessi subsequently stated that the rider had admitted to transfusing an iron solution rather than his own blood.
In a statement on Wednesday morning, CONI announced that it had referred Riccò’s case to its anti-doping tribunal for a “violation of article 2.2 of the WADA code on the basis of the report forwarded by the Modena Procura.” CONI has also requested “a suspension of twelve years, given that it is the second violation of anti-doping rules.”
Riccò’s first doping sanction came after he tested positive for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France. On that occasion, he was handed a two-year suspension but ironically that ban was reduced to 20 months after Riccò collaborated with CONI’s inquiry, and he returned to competitive action in March 2010.
Although Riccò enjoyed considerable success in the second half of last season, he has not raced since his kidney ailment in early February, and he was fired by his Vacansoleil-DCM team shortly after being discharged from hospital later that month.
Riccò’s attempts to return to action in June in the colours of Croatian outfit Meridiana-Kamen were thwarted by temporary suspensions imposed by both the Italian Cycling Federation (FCI) and CONI.
Paolini proceedings abandoned
CONI also announced on Wednesday that it has abandoned disciplinary proceedings against Luca Paolini for his involvement in the Operazione Athena doping investigation, which began in 2006. The preliminary hearing judge’s report had been declared insufficient by prosecutors in Como and CONI thus decided to shelve its own proceedings against the rider.
Eddy Mazzoleni previously received a two-year suspension for his implication in the investigation, which centred on a doping network in Bergamo and Como, while Mazzoleni’s his wife Elisa Basso, sister of Ivan Basso, was last year banned from all sporting events in Italy for four years.
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