Riccardo Ricco has finally confessed to giving himself a transfusion, but claimed it was an iron solution “done only on medical prescription” and not a transfusion of his own, stored blood.
The Italian news service Ansa initially reported that Ricco had confessed to an autologous blood transfusion in a written statement to the public prosecutor in Modena, who is wrapping up the investigation.
Ricco's lawyer Fiorenzo Alessi was quick to declare the news "unfounded", according to Tuttobiciweb.it, and Ansa changed its report to state that the rider admitted to transfusing an iron solution.
The 8-month saga of the controversial Italian ride, who served a suspension for doping with EPO-CERA during the 2008 Tour de France, began in February, when he was hospitalized for kidney failure. News reports surfaced stating that Ricco had confessed to the emergency room personnel that he performed a blood transfusion on himself, but he later denied making such statements.
Subsequent examinations of his medical records during the course of the Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) investigation showed hallmarks of an infection caused by the transfusion of improperly stored blood.
However, as recently as last month, Ricco denied to the CONI that his medical problems were caused by an illegal blood transfusion.
The case caused Vacansoleil-DCM to fire Ricco, but in June he signed with the Croatian Continental-ranked team Meridiana Kamen. He never rode for them, however, as first the Italian Cycling Federation suspended him shortly after the signing was announced, citing health concerns, and then the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) followed suit extending the ban worldwide.
He has been investigated by both CONI and by public prosecutors. He faces not only a lifetime ban, since he has already served a two-year ban for EPO, but also up to a three-year prison sentence.