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Page last updated at 18:36 GMT, Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Ill cyclist Ricardo Ricco faces anti-doping proceedings

Ricardo Ricco
Ricco was thrown out of the 2008 Tour de France for doping violations

Ill cyclist Riccardo Ricco will be investigated by Italy's anti-doping body over reports he performed a blood transfusion on himself.

Ricco was admitted to an Italian hospital on Monday with reported kidney failure and was initially believed to be in a critical condition.

The 27-year-old Vacansoleil rider is now off the critical list.

Ricco returned from a 20-month ban in March having being found guilty of doping during the 2008 Tour de France.

After feeling unwell in training on Sunday, Ricco's father, Rubinho, claimed his son's kidney had failed, while Italian media reported he also had intestinal and lung problems.

Ricco's father also said his son was conscious and talking, however there has been no official word on the diagnosis from the Modena hospital.

It has been reported, though, that doctors had informed the authorities that Ricco had admitted to injecting blood he had been keeping for 25 days.

"He risked not seeing the light of day," the source said, adding that Ricco had the symptoms of unsafe self blood transfusion. The source said doctors had informed local prosecutors about the case.

A statement from the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping body read: "The anti-doping prosecutor's office announces that it has opened disciplinary proceedings against professional cyclist Riccardo Ricco on the basis of news which has appeared in the press."

Ricco - nicknamed the 'Cobra' - was stripped of his two stages victories in the 2008 edition of Le Tour after he was found to have taken banned EPO substance CERA when riding for Saunier Duval-Prodir (now named Geox-TMC).

In September last year, the three-time Giro d'Italia stage winner had his house raided as part of an Italian police probe into doping.

Unidentified tablets were seized but no charges were brought against him.

Upon his return to the sport, he rode for Ceramica Flaminia earlier this season before moving to ProTour licence-hopefuls Vacansoleil.

Meanwhile, Ricco's compatriot Lorenzo Bernucci, a former team-mate of ace sprinter Alessandro Petacchi, has been suspended for five years by the Italian Olympic Committee.

Four members of Bernucci's family also received bans for their involvement in a doping ring.

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see also
Ricco suspended after failed test
31 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Spanish team sack Ricco & Piepoli
18 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Ricco claims second stage victory
13 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Ricco wins as Kirchen takes lead
10 Jul 08 |  Cycling

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CNN Cycling: Probe into Ricco's illness - 16 hrs ago
Port Stephens Examiner Cobra should be banned for life if found guilty again - Cancellara - 16 hrs ago Accused Ricco facing sack - 20 hrs ago
DNA India Riccardo Ricco's team threaten to sack him over allegations - 20 hrs ago
Sun fm103.4 Cyclist Taken Ill 'After Bad Blood Transfusion' - 24 hrs ago


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