Ban from Italian Olympic committee followed controversial rider being hospitalised due to self-administered blood transfusion

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has rejected an appeal by Italian cyclist Riccardo Riccò against the 12-year ban imposed on him in April last year by the anti-doping tribunal of the Italian Olympic committee, CONI.

The 29-year-old from Modena was preparing to race the 2011 season for Vacansoleil-DCM when he was admitted to hospital after a self-administered blood transfusion went wrong, with CONI subsequently opening the disciplinary proceedings that led to his latest ban which effectively ends his career.

The previous year, Riccò had returned for a two-year ban imposed on him after he tested positive for EPO during the 2008 Tour de France, in which he had won two stages. He had been targeted for testing after trying to give anti-doping officials the slip following an earlier stage.

Earlier that season, he had won a stage of the Giro d’Italia on his way to finishing second overall behind Alberto Contador, and he also claimed the best young rider’s competition.

As he got ready to return from that two-year ban, Riccò came under the wing of Italian trainer Aldo Sassi, noted for his strong views against doping, but Sassi died from a brain tumour in December 2010 and Riccò subsequently returned to his old ways.

In its press release announcing the decision today, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said: “On 18 June 2012, Riccardo Riccò appealed to the CAS to request the annulment of the CONI Anti-Doping Tribunal’s decision.

“The rider argued that the proceedings before such body were flawed and that the Tribunal which handled the case was not impartial. The rider also raised several procedural errors.

“The case was handled by a Sole Arbitrator, Professor Ulrich Haas (Germany), who considered that the arguments of the rider were unfounded and that, in particular, he had failed to demonstrate a lack of impartiality by the CONI Anti-Doping Tribunal. Accordingly, the twelve year suspension was confirmed.”

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.