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Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Thursday, 31 July 2008 17:40 UK

Ricco suspended after failed test

Riccardo Ricco
Ricco faces a criminal investigation in France

Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco has been suspended from all competition with immediate effect after failing a drug test during the Tour de France.

The 24-year-old was kicked out of the Tour after testing positive for blood booster EPO.

He admitted earlier this week that he should have been caught doping far earlier than he was.

The Italian could face a two-year ban from cycling and also faces a criminal investigation in France.

Under new laws, he is liable for possession and use of drugs and could receive a maximum two years in prison and a 2,950 fine.

Ricco, who won two Tour stages before being caught, claimed the system for drug testing on the Tour was less than comprehensive.

606: DEBATE

"They made 10 tests in about 13 legs - two were positive and in theory all the tests should have been positive. Therefore the method needs to be checked," he said.

But the Italian maintained he had not used doping products during the Giro d'Italia in May, where he won two stages.

"After the Giro, I was mentally and physically tired," Ricco told the tribunal.

"At the Giro I was clean, but then the Wednesday before the end of the race I doped. It was an error of youth."

Ricco was sacked by his Saunier-Duval team, who also withdrew from the tour.

see also
Cavendish backs doping crackdown
18 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Spanish rider Nevado fails test
16 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Ricco wins as Kirchen takes lead
10 Jul 08 |  Cycling


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