Ricco caught on EPO

and has been asked to leave the Tour. No news yet about the rest of the SD team.

What a huge blow this is, even though I don't like the guy, this is truly sad. Makes one think what the rest of the team is up to.

update: The Saunier Duval-Scott team has voluntarily withdrawn from the Tour and gone home. Sad day indeed.

Source, l'equipe

Update by Gavia A few more details. The positive tests date from the time trial at Cholet. According to l'Equipe, Ricco tested positive for a new form of EPO, Continuous Erythropietin Receptor Activator (CERA), which has only recently come into use. This may explain his confidence that he would not be caught out by the authorities, as he likely believed that the authorities could not yet detect this variant. The other two positives of this Tour de France also used this same variant of EPO, according to Pierre Bordry, President of the AFLD. If indeed CERA was not previously detectable, we may well see more positives in this Tour and some surprise abandons, especially since these three positives announced so far date from so early in the race.

Saunier Duval DS Joxean Fernandez has also suggested in a press comment today that the team will stop racing altogether as a consequence of the Ricco positive. No confirmation just yet of that, however.

Update.Ricco was arrested before the start of the stage, and has been held for questioning by French authorities, and is currently in French custody with an interpretor and lawyer for company. It is not known when he will be released. The Prosecutor, Antoine Le Roy, will give a press conference at 18.00, about the legal status of the rider.

Update. According to a brief summary of the prosecutor's press conference, a preliminary investigation has been opened against Riccardo Ricco, and it seems, Team Saunier Duval. French authorities stopped the team bus near the département de l'Ariège at 17.50. Presumably, the police searched the bus, and it remains unclear whether the team has been allowed to continue on its way.

Update. More details from the press conference. The prosecutor explained that Ricco will be charged with possession and use of a prohibited substance which carries a pentalty of up to two years in prison and a monetary fine. He is currently being held in Mirepoix, but tomorrow will be transferred to Foix, where the investigation is based. The hotel of the team is currently being searched for evidence. Ricco has so far denied using the drug, and claims he is innocent. One report suggested that the team bus has been seized, though I have not seen further confirmation.