Bad Blood-Doping Case Hits the Cycling World

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As doping investigations of superstar cyclist Lance Armstrong continue, here's a particularly nasty bit of news for the sport. The Italian Olympic Committee is now investigating cyclist Riccardo Ricco, previously banned for 20 months for doping during the 2008 Tour de France, for allegedly trying to perform a blood transfusion on himself. The 27-year-old Vacansoleil-DCM team rider told the Gazzetto dello Sport on Sunday that he'd attempted the transfusion on his own, causing him to go into shock.

It's called "blood doping"; you take some of your own blood, let your body replace it, and then add in the stashed blood on top of the replacement at the last minute. It gives you an edge on getting oxygen to your muscles, and is banned in cycling. CNN points out that it's also illegal in the eyes of Italy's legal system, which means Ricco could clock jail time.

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president John Fahey says Ricco's situation is tragic--Ricco is currently in the hospital, seeming to be sick because of the botched transfusion. Examining reactions from team owners and riders, though, it looks like Fahey's the only one from whom Ricco can expect any sympathy.

  • What Did You Expect, asks Continental team An Post's Sean Kelly: "when you look at his history it's always a big risk taking a rider like this . . .if I had a team that were in a position looking for riders, Ricco would never come on the list."
  • He Doesn't Deserve Sympathy, according to HTC-Highroad's Rolf Aldag, who told Cycling News that when he found out Ricco was in the hospital he was shocked, but "then you hear the news behind it and then it makes you very, very, angry."
  • See Ya  Fellow Italian Manuel Quinziato lit into Ricco, telling Le Monde that his reaction was, "so long, Riccardo! We won't miss you."
  • Ricco Is an 'Idiot,' says Swiss Fabian Cancellara, also quoted by Le Monde. "Ricccardo will again make cycling synonymous with doping. It's terrible for our sport. We can as much put it back together as send it to the moon" he says.

According to The Telegraph, Vaconsoleil-DCM's team manager says if the story is true, Ricco's career is over.

*Le Monde translation by Heather Horn

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