Riccardo Riccò handed 12-year-ban by Italian Olympic committee

Penalty results from self-administered blood tranfusion last year and effectively ends Italian's career

by Simon_MacMichael   April 19, 2012  

Riccardo Ricco (picture- Vacansoleil).jpg

Riccardo Riccò, admitted to hospital in February last year after nearly losing his life following an apparently botched self-administered blood transfusion, has been handed a 12-year ban from sport by the anti-doping tribunal of CONI, the Italian Olympic committee, which effectively ends his career.

Riccò, who had previously served a two-year ban for doping after testing positive for EPO during the 2008 Tour de France, had been signed by Dutch outfit Vacansoleil-DCM in late 2010 after returning to the sport earlier that year with Ceramica Flaminia, and was targeting success in the Giro d'Italia during the 2011 season.

As he prepared to re-enter the sport, the 28-year-old from Modena had come under the guidance of Italian trainer Aldo Sassi, well known for his rigorous stance against doping; however, Sassi died of a brain tumour in December 2010 and it is apparent that the temptation to dope proved too much for Riccò.

In the meantime, Vania Rossi, his girlfirend and mother of his child, had herself been suspended but subsequently cleared ofdoping charges.

Riccò's positive test during the 2008 Tour de France was revealed after he had already won two stages of the race for his Saunier Duval-Prodir team, but even before the first of those victories, rumours regarding his having returned a positive result had been circulating.

Shortly after news emerged of his admission to hospital last February, the head of the Italian cycling federation described Riccò as “a young man who is ill on the inside,” and urged him to give up the sport for the good of his health, mental as well as physical.

The soap opera surrounding Riccò wasn't quite over, however.

He toyed with the idea walking away from cycling altogether and becoming a bartender, but the lure of the sport proved irresistible and after the Amore & Vita team had expressed an interest in him riding for it as long as he was prepared to help combat doping, another Italian squad, Meridiana Kamen, announced in early June that he would race for it in the Tour of Serbia.

Within days, however, CONI had suspended Riccò from all competition.

 

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

That's not messing about, is it?

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
19th April 2012 - 14:24

3 Likes

I'm so glad that the Italian federation took such a decisive stance against Riccò!

He's a disgrace for the whole country Sad

posted by diego [27 posts]
19th April 2012 - 14:33

6 Likes

Just for the Tour de France stage where pretty much everyone else finished on their knees, except for Roid Ricco here who danced up the climbs, I'm glad to see the back of him. Such a shame though, because if he could have been half as entertaining when clean, he would have been a joy to watch.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3472 posts]
19th April 2012 - 14:40

5 Likes

That's more like it, 12 year ban, not bad. Not a life ban but pretty good, more like this please!

notfastenough, when has doping been entertaining? He obviously wasn't good enough as a rider when clean, so he decided to cheat.

posted by Karbon Kev [682 posts]
19th April 2012 - 15:26

2 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Just for the Tour de France stage where pretty much everyone else finished on their knees, except for Roid Ricco here who danced up the climbs...

You mean, like Roid Rasmussen and Roid Contador did in 2007? And Roid Armstrong, Roid Rijs, Roid Mayo, Roid Ullrich &c &c before them? So many Roids in the past, so many Roids still roiding.

dullard's picture

posted by dullard [140 posts]
19th April 2012 - 16:09

3 Likes

This won't be a popular view, but in a way I feel sorry for Ricco.

He seems to have mental issues, and I think it can be strongly argued that his 'decision' to dope was largely a result of the way he was conditioned, groomed, whatever you want to call it, when he was riding as a youth (and there are certainly rumours of him doping right from those days).

The Italian authorities have shown in a number of cases in recent years that they are prepared to be hard not only on riders but also coaches, family etc who encourage the doping in the first place.

Doping cases are seldom as open and shut as a rider thinking he can get away with it and sourcing products etc himself so he can try and outfox the authorities.

Ricco isn't a rider renowned for his intelligence, and I reckon to apportion 100 per cent of the blame to him is wrong; others have been involved throughout his career, and you could even say deprived the sport of someone who could have been one of the sport's greats; irrespective of the artificial help he had, he was a talented bike rider.

As Bike Pure have said from the outset, the fight against doping has to start with those who encourage vulnerable youngsters setting out on their careers to do so in the first place and adopt the mindset that it's a 'normal' part of pro bike racing.

Simon_MacMichael's picture

posted by Simon_MacMichael [8505 posts]
19th April 2012 - 16:23

3 Likes

Simon i totally agree with you. He had problems trying to turn proffesional from the start as his haemocratic levels were always a bone of contention. Those in his "circle" have either been suspended, fined or an elemant of suspicion looms over them too. I think a perfect example of someone who mixed with the wrong people who have unfortuantley ruined what could have been a promising career. As you said a talented bike rider, unfortunate that he will only be remembered for the negatives he brought to our beautiful sport....

ianj's picture

posted by ianj [15 posts]
19th April 2012 - 16:56

4 Likes

Do you know the only way he wil be remembered?
When the press want a story.

posted by mattsccm [280 posts]
19th April 2012 - 19:07

4 Likes

Karbon Kev, I'm merely pointing out that it is good to watch an attacking rider, particularly on a climb.

Dullard, not sure what you're getting at, I'm not suggesting everyone else is clean, merely that on that particular stage, he seemed to be so much fresher than others as to be overtly suspicious.

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3472 posts]
19th April 2012 - 21:08

3 Likes

Are we sure the Italian committee hasn't rushed to conclusions? Did they check his dietary intake for Spanish beef? Thinking

posted by dino [57 posts]
19th April 2012 - 21:29

2 Likes

Although I am happy they have issued a hefty ban I hope that it isnt going to be a question of "Right, we've banned him, lets leave him to rot". He's clearly got issues and I dont think it would be fair or sporting to just abandon him. I hope CONI have something in place to offer him support or I fear we could be seeing another, even more unfortunate Ricco headline in the future.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
19th April 2012 - 23:57

6 Likes

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah Devil Devil Devil Devil

Right. Now I've got that out...

The UCI need to do something more with respect to punishing teams, management, and staff, as well as just the riders. Maybe teams should get a points deduction when one of their riders fails a dope test. Not just losing that rider's points, but also a 50 point deduction for the following season. That would also make the teams think twice about signing risky riders. And also do a whole lot more to make sure they know what the ones they do sign are up to.

posted by Matt_S [200 posts]
20th April 2012 - 9:11

1 Like

Ricco has NOT been given 12 years for repeated doping but for repeatedly speaking out IMO.

The athletes that get completly pushed out of there sport & treated like a pariah's always seem to be Unapologetic & outspoken they all tell the same story... 'I'm not doing anything wrong, everyone is doing this, whats the problem?' This is what will end your career NOT Doping.

Look at all the athletes/riders that test positive. If they want to come back, they have 2 choices in this age of cycling... apologize 'I've been a naughty boy & made a mistake, I promise I'll never do it again' like David Millar did.
Or keep your mouth shut, don't talk about it publicly except to say 'I'm innocent & don't understand why I tested positive' like Valverde.

Both methods lead to acceptance back into the peloton both by the authorities & fellow riders, now whether or not those individuals continue to dope afterwards can only be speculated about.

Now it is clear to me that CAS, WADA, UCI, IOC, FIFA & ATP are amongst many organisations that clearly support staying one step behind the doping doctors & athletes, look into it if you don't believe me.

Make no mistake in another era Ricco would have been seen as a champion.
No I don't like his personality & think he has many mental issues other than doping, but he doesn't deserve all the hate he gets & ultimately when it comes to doping, I can't help wondering whether the unapologetic athletes/riders are actually being more honest with us Thinking

Perception is a bitch... I'm sure Merckx is glad he wasn't riding in recent times

Paulo's picture

posted by Paulo [110 posts]
20th April 2012 - 17:12

1 Like