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Riccardo Ricco loses sentence appeal

11/22/2011

TOULOUSE, France -- Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco lost his bid on Tuesday to overturn a two-month suspended prison sentence and a fine for doping during the 2008 Tour de France.

An appeals court in Toulouse upheld the verdict handed down by a court in southwestern France in June 2010, when Ricco was found guilty of "using a poisonous substance" during the race. He was fined $4,057.

Ricco tested positive for CERA, an advanced version of the banned blood-booster EPO, after winning two mountain stages on the 2008 Tour and was banned from cycling for 20 months.

Ricco's attorney tried to get the charges dropped because Ricco had already been charged by a court in Italy in February 2010.

"We're not pleading in favor of doping, far from it. Mr. Ricco made a mistake and admitted it," Ricco's attorney Annamaria Tripicchio-Rogier told The Associated Press at the court. "But given the fact he's already been condemned for the same thing by an Italian court, he can't be condemned again by another tribunal."

Tripicchio-Rogier added that Ricco has five days to appeal, but did not say whether he would.

Ricco has not raced since he was rushed to a hospital after falling ill at his home near Modena in February. The doctor who treated him reportedly told police that Ricco admitted transfusing his own blood, which he allegedly kept in his home refrigerator.

The 28-year-old has had a tainted career. He was fired by Dutch team Vacansoleil-DCM after the incident in February, having previously been fired by the Saunier-Duval team for his positive tests at the 2008 Tour.

Several other riders tested positive for CERA on the 2008 Tour, including mountain specialist Bernhard Kohl of Austria.

During the 2008 Tour, Ricco's dominant performances in the mountains raised suspicions even before police arrived on the morning of the 12th stage and ordered riders to step off the Saunier-Duval team bus.

Investigators found flasks and syringes in Ricco's bags, but no EPO was found among his possessions.