ROME Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco admitted Wednesday that he made a "mistake," taking responsibility after testing positive for the blood-booster EPO during the Tour de France.
Ricco appeared before the Italian Olympic Committee's anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri.
"What I did during the Tour is done. I made a mistake and the mistake is only mine," Ricco said after the hearing behind closed doors in Rome.
"I have always won with my own legs. Unfortunately, I've made a mistake and I will pay for it," Ricco added. "For now, I'm not even thinking of going back on a bike. ... I'm here because I had a huge burden and I wanted to get rid of it."
The 24-year-old Ricco won two Tour stages this month with the Saunier-Duval team. Ricco was among three cyclists involved in doping cases at the Tour.
He tested positive after the fourth stage for CERA, or continuous erythropoietin receptor activator, an advanced version of the blood-booster EPO.
After testing positive, Ricco was kicked out of the Tour and fired by the Saunier-Duval team. His team later withdrew from the race.
The team said it felt it had been a "victim" of irresponsible behavior and denied any involvement in any doping practices. Ricco was runner-up in the Giro d'Italia.