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Monday 04, Mar 2013

  Riccardo Ricco’s 12-Year Ban Upheld

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Riccardo Ricco’s 12-Year Ban Upheld

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed the appeal of the Italian cyclist Riccardo Riccò against the decision of the Anti-Doping Tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee that had imposed a suspension of twelve years on him, beginning on 19 April 2012, because of an anti-doping rule violation. The ban runs until April 2024.

The controversial Italian cyclist remains under contract to UCI Continental team Meridiana-Kamen but has been suspended from all competition until 2024. The former professional road bicycle racer from Italy joined UCI ProTeam Saunier Duval-Prodir in 2006 and won the Settimana Bergamasca.

An investigation into the banned Italian cyclist had revealed that he did perform a blood transfusion on himself on February 6 and was subsequently hospitalized with kidney problems. The cyclist had a bruise consistent with an injection site on one arm and asked the staff to inject him using the other arm, a nurse said. Meanwhile, the bacteriological analysis of the Italian cyclist’s blood disclosed an infection caused by a failed blood transfusion. The doctor who saved his life said Riccardo Ricco had confessed to having performed a blood transfusion on himself with blood that he kept in his refrigerator. The cyclist was suspended by his country’s national Olympic committee’s (CONI) anti-doping body and the ban imposed on the cyclist applies to events in Italy as well as abroad. Ricco, stating his innocence, said he injected himself with an iron solution but the claim was dismissed by experts who said it would not have produced the symptoms he was suffering from.

Nicknamed “Cobra”, Ricco won two stages at the 2008 Tour de France but was thrown off the race after a positive test for Cera EPO (erythropoietin) and was given a ban for 20 months. The cyclist appealed to the CAS on 18 June 2012 to request the annulment of the CONI Anti-Doping Tribunal’s decision and argued that the proceedings before such body were flawed and that the Tribunal which handled the case was not impartial; Ricco also raised many procedural errors. His case was handled by a Sole Arbitrator, Professor Ulrich Haas (Germany), who considered that the arguments of Ricco were unfounded and that, in particular, he had failed to demonstrate a lack of impartiality by the CONI Anti-Doping Tribunal. Thereafter, the twelve year suspension was confirmed.

Riccardo Ricco was previously banned for doping at the 2008 Tour de France. In the past, Ricco and Leonardo Piepoli were sacked by the Spanish team Saunier Duval for “doping practices”. Piepoli was dismissed because of a “violation of the team’s ethics code” while Ricco tested positive for the blood-boosting drug EPO. The cyclist tested positive for the banned blood booster Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (or CERA, a variant of Erythropoietin) on 17 July 2008 from a sample taken following the fourth stage, making him the third rider to test positive for this substance in the 2008 Tour de France after Moisés Dueñas of Barloworld and Manuel Beltrán of Liquigas. He later admitted to the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) that he had been taking EPO independent of the team in preparation for the 2008 Tour de France, and he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to his teammates and fans.

pdf_iconDownload in PDF: Riccardo Ricco’s 12-Year Ban Upheld

Sunday 24, Apr 2011

  Further checks on samples by IOC

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Further checks on samples by IOCThe International Olympic Committee (IOC) made it clear that it would not hesitate carrying out further checks on samples given during doping tests in Beijing.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said: “Our message is very clear. The IOC will not miss any opportunity to further analyse samples retroactively. We hope that this will work as a strong deterrent and make athletes think twice before cheating.”

Andy Parkinson, UK Sport’s head of operations, has appreciated the IOC announcement.

Thursday 07, Apr 2011

  Bernhard Kohl falls to disgrace

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Bernhard Kohl falls to disgraceThe Silence Lotto team has decided to sack Bernhard Kohl after his sample tested positive to CERA, the new generation of the banned blood booster EPO, at the Tour de France.

The National anti-doping agency (AFLD) of France confirmed the positive sample finding.

It was revealed by the anti-doping authorities that a sample of Kohl contained CERA before and during the Tour after re-tests at a laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry.

Tuesday 15, Mar 2011

  Silence Lotto team to sack Kohl

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Silence Lotto team to sack KohlBernhard Kohl is expected to be sacked by the Silence Lotto team after he tested positive for CERA, the new generation of the banned blood booster EPO, at the Tour de France.

A sample of Kohl was found to contain CERA before and during the Tour after re-tests at a laboratory in Chatenay-Malabry.

The positive sample finding was confirmed by France’s national anti-doping agency (AFLD).

Monday 14, Mar 2011

  IOC confirms more of drug tests

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IOC confirms more of drug testsThe International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently confirmed that it will be carrying out further checks on samples given during doping tests in Beijing.

IOC president Jacques Rogge said: “Our message is very clear. The IOC will not miss any opportunity to further analyse samples retroactively. We hope that this will work as a strong deterrent and make athletes think twice before cheating.”

Andy Parkinson, UK Sport’s head of operations, has welcomed the IOC step.

Monday 17, Nov 2008

  Italian Cyclist Sella gets 1-year ban for blood doping

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italy_dopingEmanuel Sella is the latest cyclist to be found guilty of using CERA, the third generation EPO drug, it was reported.

The Societa CSF Gruppo Navigare rider has been banned for one year by the Italian Olympic Committee‘s (CONI) anti-doping office after being caught in an out-of-competition test taken on July 23.

A one-year ban was handed down, instead of two, after the rider admitted his guilt and -operated with the court during his trial in August, ANSA news agency reported.

Sella was the surprise package of the 2008 Giro d’Italia, winning three climbing stages and the time trial at Plan de Corones.

However, he is the latest rider to fail a test for CERA, which has also snared Tour de France third Bernard Kohl and Riccardo Ricco, Leonardo Piepoli and Stefan Schumacher.

In September, Tour de France officials announced they would be retesting samples for CERA, with the International Olympic Committee following suit in October.

CERA is new variation of exogenous erythropoietin, or EPO. EPO is anemia-fighting agent and works by promoting production of red blood cells. CERA has been approved for therapeutic use in 2007 and its illegal use as a performance-enhancing drug was first documented during the 2008 Tour de France in the incidents involving Kohl, Ricco, and Piepoli.

Testing for CERA via urine samples reportedly lack validity because the compound does not pass through the kidneys.

In September, however, French doping officials came up with a blood-based doping control, which is found to be more accurate in testing for this EPO variant. French sports officials later announced that they will implement retroactive testing for 2008 Tour de France participants. Subsequently, the International Olympic Committee declared they will also be retesting samples taken from the participants of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Saturday 11, Oct 2008

  Retroactive testing for CERA – This is going to be one helluva uphill ride for 2008 Tour de France riders,dopers

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Tour_De_France_steroidsThis 2008 Tour de France’s riders might have crossed the finished lines several weeks ago, but it looks like the rigors of the race is not yet over. The rigors of Tour de France drug screening, that is.

Retroactive testing for the new generation blood booster CERA, or Continuous Erythopoiesis Receptor Activator, is now being carried out by French laboratories. So far, two riders were caught using the banned compound since the retroactive testing was implemented. It was announced on Monday that Italy’s Leonardo Piepoli and Germany’s Stefan Schumacher both tested positive for CERA.  And race officials are expecting more positive tests in the coming weeks.

“The tests are still underway, they are not all done yet,” French Anti-Doping Agency (AFLD) head Pierre Bordry told Reuters on Wednesday.

“I imagine there could be one or two more cases,” race director Christian Prudhomme added, in a week when two Tour riders were exposed as drugs cheats.

Italian rider Riccardo Ricco was suspected of taking CERA when the race was still underway in July and was subsequently sent home. Spanish riders Manuel Beltran and Moises Dueňas, tested positive for EPO, and were also sent packing.

Why the late screening?

“People in the street ask me: ‘How did that come out so late?”‘ Prudhomme said. “In July, the process wasn’t legitimate at the time … These tests are of a new type.”

There are two labs which are currently testing the samples from all of the riders who competed in this year’s race.

The Chatenay-Malabry laboratory, which has developed a more effective blood test to find this EPO variant, and a WADA-approved Lausanne facility are testing blood samples. CERA is difficult to detect through urine samples.

“We are testing samples from July 3, 4 and 15,” Bordry said, adding there was no room for error.

“They are all tested by the Chatenay-Malabry lab, which is the official AFLD lab, but also in Lausanne, as a guarantee.”

Saturday 26, Jul 2008

  New technology to catch users of steroids, EPO, and other banned drugs

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Congress, steroids, baseballAthletes who use banned compounds like EPO and anabolic steroids should beware. Let what happened to cyclist Ricardo Ricco be a lesson.

The Italian cyclist, who has been a two-stage winner of Tour de France, was expelled from the race because of the newfangled anti-doping technology.    Ricco was ninth overall before he was evicted Thursday before the 12th stage. His team, Saunier Duval, subsequently quit the race, and Ricco and teammate Leonardo Piepoli were later fired. Piepoli has confessed of using the same third generation EPO, which Ricco has tested positive for.

Apparently, it’s not only on the war on terror that technologies have been stepped up but also on war against drugs –stealth modes are now being used to catch the enemies, so to speak. With this cunning detection method, we wonder who would be the next athletes to be smoked out of their juiced up haven.

The Sydney Morning Herald published this report July 24:

A MOLECULE was the undoing of Tour de France drug cheat Ricardo Ricco, World Anti-Doping Agency chief John Fahey revealed yesterday.

Fahey said the war on drugs was stepping up, with WADA uniting with drug manufacturers to trap cheats. Italian rider Ricco, who had won stages six and nine of the Tour, tested positive for the blood booster erythropoietin (EPO). It’s believed Ricco thought there was no test for the red-cell booster he was using called Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator (CERA).

A molecule placed in the drug during its manufacture caught Ricco out last week, and Fahey said that more cheats would be sprung like this.
“I can’t tell you the details of how he was detected,” Fahey told ABC Radio. “[But] I can indicate the particular substance is called CERA … which is a perfectly legitimate substance to deal with anaemia.

“In the development of that particular substance close cooperation occurred between WADA and the pharmaceutical company Roche Pharmaceuticals so that there was a molecule placed in the substance well in advance that was always going to be able to be detected once a test was undertaken.”

The WADA chief is hopeful that more drug companies will advocate this new technology, ridding competitive sports of athletes who rely on steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs to win. The Beijing Games will also be the cleanest Olympics yet, he added, because of improved testing technology.

“The more co-operation the scientists can have with the drug companies in the detection of performance-enhancing drugs the greater the likelihood is they will be detected when tests are undertaken,” Fahey said.

“[But] I can give this guarantee – there’s a far greater likelihood that anybody cheating or attempting to cheat in the Beijing Games will be caught than in any other time of our history.”

However, there seems to be counterflow to this kind of technology. Ever heard of gene doping? It is defined by WADA – yup, the same organization Mr. Fahey leads – as “the non-therapeutic use of cells, genes, genetic elements, or of the modulation of gene expression, having the capacity to improve athletic performance.” Suffice it to say that gene doping offers a new frontier for athletes who want to foil detection.