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Page last updated at 12:25 GMT, Thursday, 2 October 2008 13:25 UK

Ricco handed two-year doping ban

Riccardo Ricco
Ricco joined the UCI ProTeam Saunier Duval-Scott in 2006

Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco has been banned for two years after admitting doping offences at the Tour de France.

The 25-year-old won two stages at this year's Tour, but tested positive in July for CERA, an advanced version of the blood-boosting substance EPO.

His punishment covers 18 months for doping at the Tour and six months for seeing a physician who had already been banned for doping violations.

Ricco, who won the Japan Cup in 2006, will be banned until 30 July 2010.

The Italian Olympic Committee tribunal issued the ban, which turned out to be more severe than expected.

Ricco's advisors had hoped for a 20-month sentence following the rider's admission of guilt.

Ricco, who spent a night in French jail after his positive test, was sacked from the Saunier-Duval team.

An emotional Ricco said after leaving the hearing and learning of his ban: "I'm very disappointed and bitter. I expected better understanding. But I made a mistake and it's fair that I pay."

The Italian's lawyers are expected to appeal against the decision to the Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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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