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ROME (AFP) – An investigation into banned Italian cyclist Riccardo Riccò concluded that he did perform a blood transfusion on himself, the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper reported on Monday.
According to witness statements collected by police in Modena and seen by the paper, the 27-year-old carried out the transfusion on February 6 and was subsequently hospitalized with kidney problems.
A nurse said the cyclist had a bruise consistent with an injection site on one arm and asked the staff to inject him using the other arm. Meanwhile, bacteriological analysis of Riccò blood revealed an infection caused by a failed blood transfusion.
The doctor who saved Riccò’s life at a hospital in Pavullo said the cyclist had confessed to having performed a blood transfusion on himself with blood that he kept in his refrigerator. Riccò has since retracted this confession.
He was suspended by his country’s national Olympic committee’s (CONI) anti-doping body in June and the ban applies to events inside Italy as well as abroad.
Riccò, nicknamed ‘Cobra,” won two stages at the 2008 Tour de France but he was thrown off the race after a positive test for Cera EPO (erythropoietin) and was banned for 20 months.
He vowed to quit cycling in March after his Vacansoleil team sacked him over the reports that he tried to give himself a blood transfusion.
“I don’t want to race any more, no chance. I’ve turned the page, I’m fed up with the cycling world, it makes me want to vomit,” he said. “I’m fed up with everyone in cycling. They already wanted me to stop when I came back but now enough’s enough, Riccò is no more.”
However, in April he said that he intended to continue cycling competitively.