Vania Rossi denies charge, says she was breastfeeding son while waiting for doping control

Vania Rossi, the partner of former Saunier Duval-Prodir rider Riccardo Riccò, due to return shortly from a 20-month ban from the sport, has herself failed a drugs test, according to a statement released by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on Friday. Rossi, however, vehemently denies that she uses performance-enhancing drugs, pointing out that she has been breastfeeding since giving birth to a baby boy last July.

CONI said that traces of the banned substance CERA – the same substance that Ricco tested positive for during the 2008 Tour de France – had been found in an A sample taken from Rossi during the Italian National Cyclocross Championships in Segrate, Milan, during January, a race in which she finished second. She was immediately suspended by tha Italian national anti-doping authorities.

Although she is at a loss to explain how traces of CERA ended up in the sample taken from her, Rossi vehemently protests her innocence, telling Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport, “I’d never put my baby at risk for a bike race.” She added: “That Sunday, while I was waiting to do the test, I breast-fed my son. If I’d taken CERA or anything else, I’d need to be locked up.”

Riccò, meanwhile, is due to return to racing in March following his 20-month ban, and has been signed for 2010 by the Ceramica Flaminia team.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.