TDF Update: Ricco tests positive
It's another sad and controversial day for cycling. When we should be celebrating what has been one of the most exciting Tour in recent memory, another idiot who thought he could game the system has been caught. Ricco has been caught using a new, third generation of EPO. The good news is that the doping controls are picking these up and catching the cheats.
And while it's disappointing that a major player has been caught, it's not a surprise that it's Ricco. He has long idolized Pantani, and even uses his soigneur. The race organizers have targetted 10 suspicious riders based on either their bio passports or anomalies in the tests done on all riders at the beginning of the Tour. So far three have been ejected. There may have been one or two more who have withdrawn with "illnesses". Let's hope the other dopers get the point and slink away before they get caught.
Italian rider Riccardo Riccò of Saunier Duval has tested positive for blood booster Erythropoietin (EPO), French sports daily L'Equipe reported on its website on Thursday. According to the paper's Damien Ressiot, one of the climber's urine samples collected by the French Anti-Doping Agency AFLD showed traces of a third generation EPO called CERA (Continuous Erythropoietin Receptor Activator).
The team has pulled out of the Tour. Saunier Duval's directeur sportif, Joxean Fernandez Matxin, was surprised as anybody. "We only found out ten minutes ago. The entire team is ceasing its operation, not only in the Tour de France."
Riccò, who won two stages in the Tour de France (the sixth and ninth), was ninth on general classification before the news broke on Thursday morning. The Italian's impressive performances have in the past been explained by his naturally high hematocrit level.