Italian cyclist performed own blood transfusion: report

Italian prosecutors and the Italian Olympic Committee are investigating reports that cyclist Riccardo Ricco was hospitalized after allegedly performing a blood transfusion on himself.

Italian prosecutors and the Italian Olympic Committee are investigating reports cyclist Riccardo Ricco, coming back from a long doping suspension, was hospitalized after allegedly doing a blood transfusion on himself.

The Gazzetto dello Sport reported Wednesday that doctors at Pavullo Hospital in Modena quoted Ricco as saying he administered a transfusion to himself using blood he stored in the fridge for 25 days.

He was admitted to the hospital on Sunday in a state of shock, the report said. Ricco was expected to be released on Wednesday.

Prosecutors in Modena have opened an investigation into Ricco, the newspaper said.

In Rome, the anti-doping prosecutors' office of the Italian Olympic Committee also said it had started a "disciplinary procedure" based on media reports.

The head of the Italian Cycling Federation, Renato Di Rocco, urged Ricco to leave the sport for his own good and the good of cycling. He issued a blistering statement calling Ricco sick and "intoxicated by false messages."

"He did what he did despite the sentence he received and despite the risk to his own life," Di Rocco said. "The damage to cycling's image is enormous and the federation will do everything possible to repair it, but the moral disaster is terrifying."

Ricco's Dutch cycling team Vacansoleil said in a statement it will check the "rumours" about Ricco.

"Depending on the outcome, further steps will be taken," it said, insisting it has a zero-tolerance policy toward doping.

Ricco signed with Vacansoleil for this season following a 20-month ban for doping at the 2008 Tour de France.

His team withdrew him from the five-day Tour of the Mediterranean starting on Wednesday.