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Italian federation suspends Riccardo Riccò for the sake of his health

National body steps in after UCI approves cyclist's transfer to Team Meridiana...

Riccardo Riccò, who was yesterday reported to have been cleared by the UCI to join the Italy-based but Croatia-registered team Meridiana, has today been suspended by his own national governing body for the sake of his health.

In a statement, the Federazione Ciclistica Italiana (FCI) said that its committee for the protection of health, presided over by Dr Luigi Simonetto “had today made provisions to suspend the athlete Riccardo Riccò from competitive activity for reasons relating to the health of the athlete himself.”

Campania-based Team Meridiana revealed that it had signed Riccò last week and that he was due to ride in the Tour of Serbia later this month.

The 27-year-old has not raced since being fired in February this year by Dutch ProTeam Vacansoleil-DCM after being hospitalised with kidney failure following an apparent attempt at a self-transfusion of blood.

At the time, FCI President Renato Di Rocco urged Riccò to give up the sport for the sake of his family, calling him “a young man who is ill on the inside.”

Riccò had joined the Dutch Vacansoleil from Ceramica Flaminia, the Italian team he joined following his return from his ban resulting from a positive test for CERA in the 2008 Tour de France, in which he had won two stages for Saunier Duval.

After his return to the sport last year, Riccò had begun working with the Italian coach Aldo Sassi, well known for his anti-doping stance. The relationship was all too brief, however, as Sassi fell victim shortly before Christmas to the brain tumour he had been fighting.

No charges have yet been brought against Riccò by either the anti-doping authorities or public prosecutors in respect of February’s events.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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