LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco lost his appeal on Friday against a 12-year ban imposed for attempting a blood transfusion at his home.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport said it dismissed Ricco's challenge against a ruling by an Italian Olympic Committee tribunal. The ban, which runs through April 2024 when Ricco will be aged 40, likely ends the riding career of one of cycling's most notorious cheats since the biological passport was launched as an anti-doping deterrent in 2008.
Ricco served a previous ban after being kicked out of the 2008 Tour de France for doping while winning two mountain stages. "In February 2011, Riccardo Ricco had to be admitted to hospital urgently after he transfused his own blood," CAS said, explaining how his latest case began.
Ricco challenged the 12-year ban by claiming the Italian tribunal was not impartial and alleging "several procedural errors," the court said in a statement. The court's sole arbitrator, German law professor Ulrich Haas, "considered that the arguments of the rider were unfounded and that, in particular, he had failed to demonstrate a lack of impartiality" in the Italian case.
Ricco has not raced in the two years since being rushed to a hospital after falling ill at his home near Modena. The doctor who treated him reportedly told police the cyclist confessed to using transfusions of his own blood, which he allegedly kept in his home refrigerator.
He was fired by Dutch team Vacansoleil-DCM after the incident. Ricco achieved notoriety at the 2008 Tour when testing positive for CERA, which was the latest version of the blood-boosting hormone EPO. Weeks earlier, Ricco had finished second in the Giro d'Italia behind Alberto Contador.
Ricco served a 20-month ban for that offense, having won an appeal at CAS to reduce the original two-year ban because he cooperated with anti-doping authorities.