Riccardo Ricco has been fired by the Vacansoleil cycling team with immediate effect. According to a statement posted on the team's website Ricco was informed of the termination of his contract by registered letter. The rider was discharged from hospital in Italy yesterday.
Vacansoleiel suspended Ricco and started an internal disciplinary inquiry on February the 8th following his hospitalisation with suspected kidney failure following a self administered blood transfusion at his home in Italy. In today's statement Vacansoleil say Ricco was given the chance to explain himself by his now former employers, but given the facts and his own admission of what he had done the Itlaian's firing comes as the least surprising doping related news story of the week.
In their statement the Dutch team reiterated their "zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of doping. " Rumours in the Spanish press last week suggested that the UCI might revoke Vaconsolei's licence in the wake of the Ricco affair. However nothing official has been said on this subject by the UCI and it might well be a case of Spanish wishful thinking in that were Vacansoleil to be thrown out of the UCI WorldTour their natural replacement would be the Spanish Geox team.
Ironically one of the things that has further complicated things for Vacansoleil is the presence on their roster of 35 year old Spaniard Ezequiel Mosquera, second in last year's Vuelta but subsequently found to have used a masking agent during the race. The rider is currently in limbo – not under sanction by the UCI yet, but not being raced by his new team either until the situation regarding any disciplinary proceedings becomes clearer.
Tony has been editing cycling magazines and websites since 1997 starting out as production editor and then deputy editor of Total Bike, acting editor of Total Mountain Bike and then seven years as editor of Cycling Plus. He launched his first cycling website - the Cycling Plus Forum at the turn of the century. In 2006 he left C+ to head up the launch team for Bike Radar which he edited until 2008, when he co-launched the multi-award winning road.cc - which he continues to edit today. His favourite ride is his ‘commute’ - which he does most days inc weekends and he’s been cycle-commuting since 1994. His favourite bikes are titanium and have disc brakes.