Doping investigation into sick Ricco

Italian Olympic Committee launches enquiry after hospital admission

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has opened an investigation into Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco, who was hospitalised after being taken ill during training on Sunday, judicial sources said Tuesday, amid media reports he may have suffered from the effects of a self-administered blood transfusion.

The Vacansoleil racer's father Rubinho Ricco, indicated Monday that the problem could be "kidney failure."

But the Gazzetta dello sport cited an unnamed doctor at Pavullo hospital - whose emergency admissions service Ricco had gone to Sunday - as saying that the racer had indicated he had effected a self-administered transfusion from a three-week-old sample at his home which he feared had gone off.

The Modena prosecutor has opened an investigation and is now awaiting the results of tests at the hospital.

"It is only after having received them that we can make any hypothesis on whether there has been any violation of anti-doping laws," said prosecutor Vito Zincani, who confirmed the Gazzetta item on Ricco's reported comments to the doctor regarding the alleged self-administering of blood.

CONI said it had opened an investigation "on the basis of information which has appeared in the press."

His team later issued a statement saying that should the rumours be true then the rider would be sacked forthwith.

"We are aware of the rumours surrounding Riccardo Riccò, indicating that he admitted to self administering a blood transfusion. But the team does not have enough information at its disposal to make a judgement at this stage.

"The team has a zero tolerance attitude as regards doping and any rider who contravenes the doping laws knows he will be sacked."

Ricco, 27, returned from a 20-month suspension in March after he was found to have taken EPO substance CERA during the 2008 Tour de France.

© AFP 2011

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