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Riccardo Riccò

Riccardo Riccò
Riccò in 2011
Personal information
Full nameRiccardo Riccò
NicknameThe Cobra
Born (1983-09-01) 1 September 1983 (age 40)
Formigine, Italy
Height1.73 m (5 ft 8 in)
Weight59 kg (130 lb)
Team information
Current teamSuspended
Rider typeClimbing specialist
Professional teams
2006–2008Saunier Duval–Prodir
2010Ceramica Flaminia
Major wins
Giro d'Italia, 3 stages
Giro d'Italia, Young Rider jersey (2008)
Tirreno–Adriatico, Points jersey and 2 stages (2007)

Riccardo Riccò (born 1 September 1983) is an Italian professional road bicycle racer, who is suspended from all competition until 2024.[1] He was previously ejected from the 2008 Tour de France for doping violations and suspended. Riccò returned to competition in late 2010, but in February 2011 he was fired by his team, Vacansoleil–DCM, after he became seriously ill allegedly through a self-administered autologous blood transfusion. He then signed to UCI Continental team Meridiana–Kamen.[2]

On 19 April 2012 it was announced that he had been suspended for 12 years effectively ending his career.[3]


Born in Formigine, Riccò joined UCI ProTeam Saunier Duval–Prodir in 2006 after two successful seasons as an amateur rider, during which he won the Settimana Bergamasca. Prior to joining the team he tried to become a professional with Ceramica Panaria–Navigare in 2005 but was not allowed because several blood tests revealed his hematocrit levels exceeded those acceptable. Saunier Duval's sportif director, Mauro Gianetti, suggested he spend a week in the UCI laboratory in Lausanne to prove that his blood values were natural. Further exhaustive tests by the UCI confirmed that Riccò's hematocrit level was naturally over 50%. This has since been questioned however when, on 17 July 2008, it was revealed that Riccò had a non negative test for EPO, the hematocrit boosting drug, following the Tour de France stage 4 time trial at Cholet.[4][5] It has since been suggested by fellow professional rider Jérôme Pineau that Riccò openly doped even as a junior rider.[6]

Saunier Duval (2006–2008)

Riccò's breakthrough came during the 2007 Tirreno–Adriatico, when he won two consecutive stages and the points classification. He also won a stage and finished second in Settimana internazionale di Coppi e Bartali. He then finished ninth in Amstel Gold Race and sixth in La Flèche Wallonne in his first ever appearance in the Ardennes Classics.[7] He rode the Giro d'Italia as a domestique of team leader Gilberto Simoni and in the process he took the 15th stage at Tre Cime di Lavaredo ahead of his teammate Leonardo Piepoli. He would finish sixth overall, seven minutes behind eventual winner Danilo Di Luca. In the season finale Giro di Lombardia, he finished second after losing a two-man sprint with Damiano Cunego.

Ricco during the 2008 Giro d'Italia, wearing the white jersey as leader of the young rider classification

In 2008, Riccò rode the Giro d'Italia as team leader, and impressed in the mountains, taking two stage victories, the young rider's classification, and was 2nd overall in the general classification, 1:57 behind winner Alberto Contador. It was suspected that Riccò's performance was not clean. Doping expert Michel Audran has stated that CERA was in use by some riders in the 2008 Giro[8] CERA is the supposedly untraceable third generation EPO used by Riccò in the Tour de France weeks later.

On 10 July 2008, Riccò won stage 6 of the Tour de France with a hilltop finish at Super-Besse giving him his first Tour de France stage win. There were, however, some rumors saying that test results revealed abnormalities in his blood level. The team and the athlete claimed there were no doping issues, however, since Riccò claims to have a naturally high haematocrit level. He reportedly has a UCI certificate attesting to an hematocrit of 51%, 50% being considered the accepted upper limit since 1997. Three days later he achieved his second win at stage 9 of the Tour de France with a break away climb of the Col d'Aspin.


2008 Tour de France

On 17 July 2008, Riccò tested positive for the banned blood booster Continuous Erythropoiesis Receptor Activator (or CERA, a variant of Erythropoietin),[9] 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 was immediately ejected from the Tour and his team Saunier Duval withdrew of their own volition. Saunier Duval announced the next day that team manager Mauro Gianetti had "lost faith in" Riccò and that he had been fired from the team;[10] Riccò spent the night at the police station[11] and was indicted on charges of "use of poisonous substances". He denied the charges and told RAI television;

I'm very bitter. I spent a night in the police station and it was like being in prison. The magistrate listened to what I had to say. They searched my bags but only found some vitamins that we all use and so they decided to let me go home.

The prosecutor, Antoine Leroy, testified that medical supplies including syringes and equipment for intravenous drips were found in his hotel room, but were unused. According to AFP, the prosecutor said in the first searches, "there were no doping substances as such" found.[12]

It was later revealed that Riccò had attempted to escape doping control officials after stage 4 of the Tour, but had been caught in traffic. As a result of this, officials decided that he was to be tested after every stage.[13] It was also revealed that CERA's manufacturer Roche Pharmaceuticals had secretly worked closely with the World Anti-Doping Agency to develop a test for the drug, and this was how Riccò had been caught.[14]

In the week following the race, Riccò admitted to the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) that, independent of the team, he had been taking EPO in preparation for the 2008 Tour de France, and he accepted responsibility for his actions and apologized to his teammates and fans.[15] Riccò told the Italian newspaper La Repubblica that it was the banned doping doctor Carlo Santuccione who supplied the new form of EPO.[16]

Following Riccò's admission of guilt in the affair, his advisors had hoped for a 20-month ban to be handed to the rider,[11] but on 2 October 2008, he was handed a 2-year ban by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI),[17] which Riccò found disappointing; "I'm very disappointed and bitter. I expected better understanding. But I made a mistake and it's fair that I pay."[11] However, on 17 March 2009, the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban to 20 months because of his cooperation; he resumed racing in March 2010 on the Ceramica Flaminia team.

Riccò also faced criminal prosecution in both Italy and France for the doping affair. He was convicted by a criminal court in Padua and given a fine of €3,040.[18] In June 2010, Riccò was handed a two-year suspended sentence by a Toulouse court, which was upheld on appeal in November 2011.[19]

In August 2010, Riccò terminated his contract for Ceramica Flaminia,[20] and signed a two-year contract with Dutch Vacansoleil Pro Cycling Team.[21]

2011 blood transfusion incident

On 6 February 2011 Riccò was admitted to a hospital in critical condition, with sepsis and kidney failure, allegedly due to a blood transfusion he performed on himself with 25-day-old blood. Riccò admitted to the doctor treating him that he had performed the transfusion in the presence of his girlfriend Vania Rossi. The doctor reported this information to authorities leading to an investigation being opened against the professional cyclist by police and the Italian Olympic committee (CONI).[22] Riccò was released from the hospital within two weeks, and was subsequently sacked by his team Vacansoleil–DCM.[23] Riccò later denied blood doping, but also stated that he was finished with the sport and that he wanted to train to become a barista.[24] He later changed his mind and said he would indeed like to race again.

In October 2011, it was reported that Riccò confessed to the blood transfusion to CONI[25] although his lawyer later denied these reports.[26]

On 19 April 2012, Italy's National Anti-doping Court (TNA – Tribunale Nazionale Antidoping) banned Riccò from any professional cycling activity for 12 years, effectively ending his career.[27] Riccò appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.[28] The CAS upheld the ban.[29]

2014 accusations

On 1 May 2014 Riccò was accused of purchasing EPO and testosterone, after being caught by Italian police in the car park of a McDonald's restaurant in Livorno.[30] Riccò later claimed to be "in the wrong place at the wrong time" and his lawyer stated that he was not in the car park to purchase EPO.

Major results

1st Overall Settimana Ciclistica Lombarda
1st Stages 2 & 3
1st Stage 4 Giro della Toscana
1st Japan Cup
1st Stage 5 Settimana internazionale di Coppi e Bartali
1st Points classification
1st Stages 3 & 4
2nd Overall Settimana internazionale di Coppi e Bartali
1st Stage 5
2nd Giro di Lombardia
4th Giro dell'Emilia
5th La Flèche Wallonne
6th Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Stage 15
9th Overall Tour de San Luis
1st Stage 4
9th Amstel Gold Race
2nd Overall Giro d'Italia
1st Young rider classification
1st Stages 2 & 8
Tour de France
1st Stages 6 & 9
1st Overall Tour of Austria
1st Stages 2 & 4
1st Coppa Sabatini
2nd Overall Settimana Ciclista Lombarda
1st Points classification
1st Stages 3 & 5
2nd Overall Giro del Trentino
1st Stage 2

Grand Tour general classification results timeline

Grand Tour 2006 2007 2008
A pink jersey Giro d'Italia 6 2
A yellow jersey Tour de France 97 DNF
Did not compete
DNF Did not finish

See also


  1. ^ "CONI suspends Riccò -". 10 June 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Riccò to sign for Meridian-Kamen -". June 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  3. ^ "Ricco receives 12-year ban". cyclingnews. 19 April 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  4. ^ "Professional Racer's Details – RICCO Riccardo". Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  5. ^ "An interview with Riccardo Riccò, June 2, 2007". 2 June 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  6. ^ "Content qu'il dorme en taule". Velo Magazine. Archived from the original on 12 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  7. ^ "71st Flèche Wallonne – PT". 25 April 2007. Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  8. ^ "Doping expert stunned by Ricco positive". ProCycling. Archived from the original on 1 August 2008. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  9. ^ "Tour 'winning war against doping'". BBC News. 17 July 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  10. ^ "Tour de France: Ricco and Piepoli sacked by Saunier Duval". The Guardian. 18 July 2008. Retrieved 9 November 2015.
  11. ^ a b c "Ricco handed two-year doping ban". BBC News. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  12. ^ " – the world centre of cycling". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Tour drugs cheat Riccardo Ricco tried to flee testers". Reuters. 23 July 2008.
  14. ^ "VeloNews – Roche: No marker in new EPO drug – Tour de France Coverage". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  15. ^ò-admits-to-doping. Retrieved30JUL2008
  16. ^ "Riccò names supplier". Retrieved 6 September 2008.
  17. ^ "Ricco handed two-year doping ban". BBC News. 2 October 2008. Retrieved 5 October 2008.
  18. ^ VeloNation. "Riccardo Riccò given suspended prison sentence and €3,000 fine for Tour 2008 offences". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  19. ^ Riccardo Ricco loses appeal over suspended sentence – BBC News, 22 November 2011
  20. ^ Ceramica Flaminia announces Riccò contract termination Cyclingnews, 13 August 2010
  21. ^ Ricco signs with Vancansoleil Cyclingnews, 17 August 2010
  22. ^ "Italian police investigate Riccò for blood doping -". 8 February 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  23. ^ Vacansoleil fires Riccò over doping Cyclingnews, 19 February 2011
  24. ^ "Riccò reveals he will never race again -". 12 March 2011. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  25. ^ "Ricco Confesses To Blood Transfusion |". Archived from the original on 13 October 2011.
  26. ^ VeloNation. "Riccò's confession denied by his lawyer". Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  27. ^ Riccardo Ricco's career all-but ended by 12-year doping ban – BBC Sport, 19 April 2012
  28. ^ Riccò to battle twelve year ban before CAS in 11 December – Velonation, 31 October 2012
  29. ^ "CAS dismisses Ricco's appeal against 12-year doping ban -". 1 March 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2018.
  30. ^ Riccò caught buying doping products Cyclingnews, 1 May 2014
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Riccardo Riccò
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