Rome - Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco was given a 12-year doping ban by the National Anti-doping Tribunal on Thursday.
Tribunal accepted the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping
prosecutor's request after Ricco was accused of giving himself a blood
Ricco maintains he is innocent and merely injected
himself with an iron solution but a doctor who operated on him claimed
Ricco had tried to give himself a blood transfusion.
In February last year Ricco ended up in hospital with kidney problems after the apparent transfusion attempt.
Close to death, he allegedly told the doctor he had given himself a transfusion with blood kept in his fridge.
have dismissed his claims of injecting himself with an iron solution,
saying it would not have produced the symptoms from which he was
An investigation concluded in September revealed
through bacteriological analysis of Ricco's blood that his infection was
caused by a failed blood transfusion.
Following the incident he was sacked by his Vacansoleil team.
then claimed he would quit cycling because it made him feel sick,
however he later recanted and said he wanted to continue racing.
had already served a two-year ban for doping during the 2008 Tour de
France, during which he was found to have taken the banned blood-booster
That was the year 'The Cobra' came to prominence, winning
two stages and finishing second overall at the Tour of Italy, although
he courted controversy by proving to be an ungracious loser, claiming
that he and not Alberto Contador had deserved to win due to his more
He went on to win another pair of stages at
the Tour de France but subsequently tested positive for doping and was
thrown out of the race, as well as fired by his then Saunier Duval team.