The Vacansoleil team has responded to reports that its rider, Riccardo Riccò, confessed to blood doping, calling the news a "rumour", but said it has started an investigation into the case.
Riccò was admitted to a hospital in Pavullo, Italy this weekend, reportedly in critical condition, although his condition quickly stabilized. Reports surfaced today saying that Riccò allegedly admitted to the doctors while he was hospitalized that he had performed a blood transfusion in the presence of his partner Vania Rossi shortly before falling ill.
The director of the hospital in Modena where Riccò is being treated issued an update on Tuesday afternoon after the rider’s parents had left the hospital.
“His general condition is improving. The patient had a quiet night and is alert. The prognosis is reserved as an act of prudence,” Giorgio Lenzotti said.
Italian police reportedly seized the medical records of the rider and have launched an investigation into possible doping by Riccò, an offense that could carry up to three years jail time.
The Vacansoleil team said that it did not yet have sufficient information to make a judgement on the issue, but that its "zero-tolerance policy" on doping would result in any rider or staff found to be in violation of the UCI's anti-doping rules be immediately fired.