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Page last updated at 15:17 GMT, Saturday, 19 February 2011

Cyclist Riccardo Ricco sacked for breaching team rules

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

Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco has been sacked by his Vacansoleil-DCM team for breaching internal rules.

The 27-year-old was hospitalised earlier this month after allegedly giving himself a blood transfusion.

He suffered from kidney problems, heart and lung infections and was initially suspended by the Dutch team.

"On 19 February, the Vacansoleil-DCM team fired Ricco with immediate effect," said a statement on the team's website,

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

The team outlines that it follows a zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of doping

A Vacansoleil-DCM team statement

The statement added: "Last Tuesday, [8 February] the team started an internal investigation regarding the hospitalisation of Mr Ricco.

"This investigation led to a suspension of the rider.

"Following the suspension, the investigation was continued and Ricco got the opportunity to give his point of view on the matter.

"Subsequent to all of this, Ricco was fired on the spot. The breach of internal rules and other indications justify this measure. He was informed on the dismissal by a registered letter.

"The team outlines that it follows a zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of doping."

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.

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see also
Ricco faces anti-doping inquiry
08 Feb 11 |  Cycling
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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