Ricco sacked over botched DIY transfusion

Sat, 19 Feb 15:48:00 2011

Italian rider Riccardo Ricco was sacked by his Vacansoleil team on Saturday after a botched self blood transfusion led to him spending 12 days in hospital.

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The 27-year-old, who returned from a 20-month ban last March after being caught taking drugs while finishing second at the 2008 Tour de France, is also facing disciplinary proceedings from Italy's anti-doping body.

"On February 19 the Vacansoleil-DCM team fired Ricco with immediate effect," a statement from the Dutch team said.

"Last Tuesday February 8th the team started an internal investigation regarding the hospitalisation of Mr Ricco. The breach of internal rules and other indications justify this measure. The team outlines that it follows a zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of doping."

Blood transfusions to boost performance are illegal under Italian sports law.

Ricco was discharged from hospital in Italy on Friday having been admitted in a serious condition with a source close to the matter saying he risked his own life trying the dangerous procedure alone.

World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey last week labelled the case tragic and desperate given Ricco's previous ban.

Cycling, especially in Italy, has long battled a serious doping problem which has badly undermined the credibility of the sport.

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