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By Agence France Presse
Italian racer Riccardo Riccò, kicked off the Tour de France for doping, has been remanded in custody for “using a poisonous substance,” the public prosecutor at Foix said on Friday.
Prosecutor Antoine Leroy said Riccò had been remanded for “using a substance classed poisonous under the terms of the public health code.”
“Riccò is placed under arrest and is banned from contacting other members of the team,” he added.
Leroy said Riccò had told the examining magistrate what he had earlier told police – namely, that he is innocent.
“The racer strongly denies having used EPO and can offer no explanation as to why EPO was found in his urine sample on July 8. He denies taking this substance or any other substance banned in France and as such denies the accusations levelled against him.”
The 24-year-old Riccò became one of the major attractions of this year’s race when he stunned a host of big names to win two stages, one in the hilly Massif Central and the other, three days later, in the Pyrenees.
However, Ricco’s Tour finished under a police escort on Thursday ahead of stage 12 following his positive test for EPO after the stage 4 time trial at Cholet on July 8.
Saunier Duval-Scott thereupon pulled out of the event amid suspicions of organized doping, which the team denies.
Team manager Mauro Gianetti insisted Friday he was “totally unaware of any doping practices going on in the team.”