Italian rider Sella admits doping in meeting with officials

ROME -- Italian cyclist Emanuele Sella admitted on Friday while meeting with doping prosecutors that he took banned substances.

Sella, the top climber at the Giro d'Italia this year, tested positive last month for the blood-booster EPO following an out-of-competion test ordered by the International Cycling Union.

Sella "confessed to having had access to a banned drug and he explained the context in which he received the substance," his lawyer Eriberto Rosso said in a statement following a two-hour meeting with Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping prosecutors.

The statement said Sella could not reveal details because of court procedures.

"A weight was lifted from me today because I cooperated," Sella said after the meeting. "I hope that [the court] is happy that I have cooperated."

The 27-year-old rider was suspended from his CSF-Navigare team. Sella won three tough legs at the Giro and took the green jersey given to the best climber, finishing sixth overall.

Sella's doping case marks the third to hit Italian cycling in the last few weeks. Riccardo Ricco, who won two stages at the Tour de France, tested positive for EPO, and Marta Bastianelli lost her spot on the Olympic team after testing positive for a banned stimulant.

Ricco admitted taking the substance, while Bastianelli said she did not knowingly use the drug. She acknowledged taking a slimming product that contained the banned substance.