By Agence France Presse

Italian cyclist Emanuele Sella has admitted taking the banned blood booster EPO.

After a hearing before the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) on Friday in Rome, in which he and compatriot Marta Bastianelli were banned from all competitions, Sella issued a statement in which he admitted having had access “to an unauthorized drug” and “clarified the context” in which he had received it.

“I have got a weight off my shoulders. I’m conscious of what I did and as a result I decided to cooperate,” Sella told Gazzetta dello Sport after the hearing.

Sella tested positive for EPO (erythropoietin) in an out-of-competition check last month following three stage wins at May’s Giro d’Italia. He placed sixth in the overall standings.