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Italy's Riccardo Ricco banned for two years

Italy's Riccardo Ricco, who admitted taking blood-booster EPO before this year's Tour de France, was banned for two years by the Italian National Olympic Committee. He will be free to ride again from July 30, 2010.

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Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco was on Thursday banned for two years by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) after he tested positive for EPO during the Tour de France.

Ricco, 24, was suspended from riding by CONI in July after admitting to using the banned blood-booster. He was kicked off the Tour de France and sacked by his Saunier-Duval team after testing positive following the fourth stage time-trial.

He initially protested his innocence but following a meeting with CONI officials, he admitted to his offence, even criticising testing procedures because he had passed many tests despite being doped.

Ricco's sanction entails bans of 18 months for the EPO doping offence and a further six months for having consulted disgraced doctor Carlo Santuccione, the Ansa news agency reported.

According to Ansa, Ricco will be free to ride again from July 30, 2010.

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