Italian Riccardo Riccò has said he wants to return to cycling, two months after being rushed to hospital supposedly following a botched blood transfusion.

Riccò is without a team and is under investigation for doping. “We fired him immediately,” Vacansoleil team press officer, Frank Kwanten told Cycling Weekly. “He’s off the list at the UCI, we sent a dismissal letter to him and the UCI.

“He’s not apart of our team and he’s aware why, because he violated some of the regulations,” Kwanten. “We actually expected something [a defence] from his side, but I think he understands there’s no way back.”

Dutch ProTeam Vacansoleil fired Riccò on February 19, nearly two weeks after Riccò was hospitalised on February 6.

The team’s doctor Daniel Demartaelaere visited the hospitals were Riccò was treated, in Italy. He says he spoke with a medic who confirmed that Riccò had suffered from a botched blood transfusion.

Before being transferred to the bigger hospital, a medic in Pavullo had claimed Riccò admitted the transfusion.

“On his own, he had done an auto-transfusion of blood that had been kept at in a refrigerator at home for 25 days,” claimed the medic. He added that Riccò had been afraid that “he had stored the blood poorly.”

Riccò told Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport last month that he’s fed up with cycling and wants to open a bar or coffee shop.

However, after meeting with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) anti-doping prosecutor, Ettore Torri, yesterday, he indicated a change of heart.  

He now denies that he transfused his blood or admitted to doing so.

“I don’t remember my recovery, I was more dead than alive,” said Riccò. “They told me that I had a virus.

“I still feel like a cyclist and I want to return. I am looking for a team that will help me return. I think there are other cyclists in my position that are racing as normal. Contador? Yes, and also Italian cyclists.”

But, despite his denials, Vacansoleil will not be reopening the door to the Italian.

“If he wants to race, then there needs to be a team to give him a chance,” said Kwanten.

“What our doctor, Demartaelaere, found when he visited him twice in Italy, and looking at the conditions in his contract, we had enough reasons to fire him. We believe that, regardless of whether CONI find him guilty.”

If found guilty, Riccò faces a possible five-year to life-time sporting ban because this would be his second offence. He tested positive for blood booster EPO-CERA in 2008 at the Tour de France. The test results were revealed after he had already won two stages.

He returned to race last year, first with Ceramica Flaminia and then with Vacansoleil.

Vacansoleil were promoted to the WorldTour this year and are due to race both the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France. Riccò trained over the winter and had already begun his season, racing the GP Marseillaise on January 30.

  • Ben Nicholson

    I say let him race, and let the boys in the peloton decide his fate – “watch out for that treacherous mountain decsent Ricky… oops!….”

    The bloke’s an idiot if he thinks he can return in this lifetime.

  • Jon Bon Jovi

    “What our doctor, Demartaelaere, found when he visited him twice in Italy, and looking at the conditions in his contract, we had enough reasons to fire him” Why does anyone not care as to what exactly this means? Cycling Weekly seem not to want to bother getting all available information. Charles Darwin once said that in looking for evidence, he always looked for evidence that contradicted his opinion, because there was always plenty of evidence he could find to support his preferred position.

  • adam

    Aw, come on Paul… you don’t believe Cav said that do you? Here’s what he probably said:

    “The sport’s f**king better off without him. He’s not a f**king problem the sport faces he’s the f**king problem the spoer faces… etc”


  • Brian

    Poor Ricco’s problem is he was born too late. If he had been winning races in the ’90s he might be as legendary as his idol, Pantani.

  • blueryder

    Do they have newspaper delivery boys in Italy?

  • Paul

    Dave. You said you would love to read Cav’s reaction. According to the Telegraph:

    “The sport’s better off without him,” Cavendish said in an interview with “He’s not a problem that the sport faces, he is the problem that the sport faces.”

    “He doesn’t mirror a lot of riders, he’s a special case and I think we’re better off without him,” Cavendish continued. “Obviously, I hope he does recover well, but I really do hope he becomes someone’s bitch in prison.”

    Sounds spot on to me.

  • simon taylor

    Ricco should not be in cycling in any shape or form again , he is too much of a cheat

  • arronski

    Life ban, for his own good, if he comes back he will probably end up killing himself !

  • Dave

    This guy has to be the biggest idiot ever to be associated with cycling, I would not let on the road as a tourist he has so besmirched cycling.
    Pity that on the attached piece from his statement did not just stop at MORE DEAD

    “I don’t remember my recovery, I was more dead than alive,” said Ricco. “.

    I would love to read Cav’s reaction to this.