Riccardo Ricco fired by Dutch team

Updated: February 19, 2011, 11:17 AM ET
Associated Press

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Cyclist Riccardo Ricco was fired by his Dutch team Saturday following an inquiry into allegations the Italian transfused his own blood.

Vacansoleil-DCM suspended Ricco a week ago and said it dismissed him for undisclosed "breaches of internal rules" and "other signals." The team said Ricco had been given a chance to defend himself.

Ricco signed with Vacansoleil this season after serving a 20-month ban for doping at the 2008 Tour de France.

Italian prosecutors and the Italian Olympic Committee are investigating reports Ricco was hospitalized after the alleged transfusion. Renato Di Rocco, head of the Italian Cycling Federation, this month urged Ricco to leave the sport.

"He did what he did despite the sentence he received and despite the risk to his own life," Di Rocco said. "The damage to cycling's image is enormous, and the federation will do everything possible to repair it. But the moral disaster is terrifying."

On Friday, Vacansoleil-DCM said 2010 Spanish Vuelta runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera would not race while the International Cycling Union investigates him for possible doping. A urine sample taken during the Vuelta last September found traces of hydroxyethyl starch, a banned masking agent.


Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press

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