The National Anti-doping Tribunal has banned Italian cyclist @Riccardo Ricco who was accused of giving himself a blood transfusion.

Born on 1 September 1983 in Formigine, Ricco is a professional road bicycle racer from Italy. In 2006, Ricco joined UCI ProTeam Saunier Duval-Prodir after two successful seasons as an amateur rider, during which he won the Settimana Bergamasca. On July 17, 2008, it was revealed that the cyclist had a non negative test for EPO, the Hematocrit boosting drug, following the Tour de France stage 4 time trial at Cholet. Riccò terminated his contract for Ceramica Flaminia in August 2010 and signed a two-year contract with Dutch Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team.

The request of Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping prosecutor was accepted by the Tribunal and Ricco was handed a career-ending ban of 12 years. The cyclist, however, maintains innocence and said he merely injected himself with an iron solution but a doctor who operated on him claimed Ricco had tried to give himself a blood transfusion.

Ricco ended up in hospital with kidney problems after the apparent transfusion attempt in February last year. Ricco, close to death, allegedly told the doctor that he had given himself a transfusion with blood kept in his fridge. An investigation revealed through bacteriological analysis of blood of Ricco that his infection was caused by a failed blood transfusion after which he was sacked by the Vacansoleil team.

The former Saunier Duval rider was found guilty of illegal blood doping. In 2008, he served a ban of two years for doping during the Tour de France in which he was found to have used the banned blood-booster Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (or CERA, a variant of Erythropoietin). Ricco went on to win another pair of stages but subsequently tested positive for doping. He was later thrown out of the race and was fired by his then Saunier Duval team.

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