2008 Tour de France drugs cheat also linked with Vuelta return with Quick Step

In what will no doubt be viewed by Tour de France organisers ASO as unfortunate timing, a court in Foix in the French Pyrenees yesterday gave former Saunier Duval-Prodir rider Riccardo Riccò a two-month suspended prison sentence and €3,000 fine for “using a poisonous substance” as a result of his positive test for CERA during the 2008 edition of the race.

A sample taken from the rider following Stage 4 of the race was found to contain traces of the banned substance, but between then and the result being made public, Riccò won two stages as the Tour made its way through the Pyrenees.

Riccò, who was also ordered to pay costs to the French Cycling Federation (FFC) according to a report in the newspaper Le Figaro, had previously been fined €5,710 for the same offence by an Italian court in February, shortly before the end of a 20-month ban – reduced from the normal two years due to the rider’s co-operation – and his return to the sport with the Italian outfit, Ceramica Flaminia.

The rider also hit the headlines earlier this year when he split up with his partner and mother of his child Vania Rossi when she tested positive for CERA during the Italian National Cyclo-Cross Championships, saying that there could be no question of them getting back together until she cleared her name, leading Katusha rider Robbie McEwen to publicly brand the Italian “a f*cking hypocrite” in a message on the social networking site, Twitter.

Meanwhile, reports in Italy suggest that Riccò may be making an early return to the ProTour ranks, with the Gazzetta dello Sport claiming earlier this week that the cyclist has been approached by Belgium-based Quick Step to ride in its colours in September’s Vuelta a Espana.

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.