CONI – the Italian Olympic Committee – has recommended that former Saunier Duval rider Riccardo Ricco be suspended from competition for 20 months after being charged by anti-doping authorities in Italy.
Ricco failed a test for banned blood-boosting drug EPO during the 2008 Tour de France after winning two stages. His urine contained traces of a ‘third generation’ EPO called Cera, which had previously been undetectable.
After sensationally failing the test during the Tour, Ricco and team-mate Leonardo Piepoli were sacked from the Saunier Duval-Scott squad for infringing the team’s ethical code. The entire team withdrew from the Tour de France.
Blood – rather than urine – samples from a number of riders are currently being retro-tested for Cera by the French anti-doping agency. The newly developed blood test is a more effective means of detecting traces of the drug.
Italian climber Emanuele Sella (CSF Navigare) also tested positive for Cera in an out-of-competition test at the end of July.