Must Reads: Ricco gets date with CAS; Freire says heroes are now suspects

The Cobra will get his chance to strike December 11

Riccò faces December hearing on 12-year ban

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — The Court of Arbitration for Sport will give Italian cyclist Riccardo Riccò a hearing in December to appeal his 12-year ban for a doping offense, according to The Associated Press.

Riccò is challenging an Italian Olympic committee tribunal verdict from April that ruled he used transfusions of his own blood. The hearing is scheduled for December 11.

The 29-year-old rider previously served a 20-month ban for using the blood-booster CERA when winning two mountain stages at the 2008 Tour de France.


Freire: ‘Before cyclists were heroes, now we’re suspects

Óscar Freire says cycling will never be the same in the wake of the Lance Armstrong scandal.

Speaking to the Spanish daily ABC, the recently retired three-time world champion said the affair has tarred everyone in the peloton.

“Cycling will never be what it was like. It’s been a disappointment, not only with Armstrong, but for the degradation of the sport I love,” he said. “Before cyclists were heroes, now we’re the suspects. It’s too bad and it brings you down.”

Freire ended his career in September after falling short of winning a record fourth world title. Never one to hold his tongue, he stopped short of clarifying his own personal history. When asked by ABC if he had doped during his career, Freire danced around the question without giving a straight yes-or-no answer.

“You can race as a professional without resorting to doping, but every person has their story,” he said. “I followed my own path, not caring about what everyone else was doing. I never had any problem with anything. If a lot of others had thought like me, cycling would be something else.”

When the reporter countered, “I understand that as a no,” Freire replied: “There are a lot of other races that are not the Tour and say no. The problem of this sport is that there are a lot who take it for granted to be a cyclist and the best thing they can do is go somewhere else before spreading their filth.

“I was always at a realistic level. I never won a mountain stage at the Tour. It always seemed to me very strange to see people of medium level staying strong with the top five in the mountains at the Tour.”