Italian media are reporting that Riccardo Riccò faces doping inquiries after being hospitalized on Sunday with a high fever and signs of kidney failure.
The newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported Tuesday that the doctor who treated the Vacansoleil rider told police that the cyclist had said in the presence of his girlfriend, Vania Rossi, that he had tranfused himself with blood kept in the refrigerator for 25 days and feared it might have been stored improperly.
The Italian news service ANSA, meanwhile, reported that the anti-doping prosecutor of the Italian Olympic committee (CONI) has opened disciplinary proceedings against Riccò, who remains hospitalized. CONI confirmed the report with a brief note on its website.
The prosecutor in Riccò’s hometown of Modena also has begun an inquiry and is awaiting the results of tests at the hospital, according to Agence France Presse.
“It is only after having received them that we can make any hypothesis on whether there has been any violation of anti-doping laws,” said prosecutor Vito Zincan.
Riccò, 27, was set to start the Tour Mediterranean this week and race the Volta ao Algarve later this month in Portugal as part of his comeback from a racing ban after testing positive for CERA/EPO during the 2008 Tour de France.
Frank Kwanten, commercial manager for Vacansoleil, told VeloNews that the team does not yet have enough information “to make a deliberated judgment on this matter” and has begun its own inquiry.
“The team has a zero-tolerance policy considering doping use,” he added. “All riders and staff who violate the internal and UCI doping rules are fired on the spot.”