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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

Cycling News Flash, July 30, 2008

Edited by Laura Weislo

Riccò confesses to EPO use

The eyes of a Cobra: Riccardo Riccò (Saunier Duval - Scott)
Photo ©: Roberto Bettini
(Click for larger image)

Italian Riccardo Riccò confessed to taking EPO to the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) prosecutor, Ettore Torri on Wednesday. Riccò tested positive for the drug following stage four of the Tour de France, forcing his team to pull its entire squad from the race.

The 24-year-old initially denied using the drug after being indicted on charges of "use of poisonous substances" in a court in Foix, but took responsibility for his actions, saying that he "made a mistake" by taking the drug. "What I did during the Tour is done. I made a mistake and the mistake is only mine," Riccò told ANSA outside the closed hearing.

Riccò was second overall at the Giro d'Italia, and was not originally scheduled to race the Tour de France. But he asked team manager Mauro Gianetti to add him to the roster in the weeks before the race. He went on to win the Tour's first mountain top finish in Super Besse before news of his positive test was announced.

"After the Giro, I had no plans to go to the Tour, and that is why I have taken the substance," Riccò said. "I made a mistake of youth."

Riccò has withdrawn his request to have a counter-analysis done on the B-sample, but said that the testing procedure needed some work. "Of the 10 controls taken, only two were positive. In theory all the tests should have been positive, therefore the method needs to be checked," he said.

The scandal resulting from Riccò's positive test led title sponsor Saunier Duval to withdraw its support from the team, although it did find a replacement sponsor last week. Ricco regretted the impact his actions had on the team. "My first thoughts go to my team and the staff who may have lost their jobs because of me, and my fellow team-mates who were forced to withdraw from the Tour de France."

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