Richeze out of Giro d'Italia after positive doping test

PALERMO, Sicily -- Argentine cyclist Maximiliano Richeze tested positive for steroid use in a recent race and has been excluded from the Giro d'Italia that begins this weekend, Giro organizers said Friday.

Richeze tested positive for the steroid stanozolol three weeks ago when competing in another race, Giro spokesman Sergio Meda said. Richeze can request that his second sample be tested, but for now has been expelled from the Giro that starts Saturday.

Richeze, who races for the CSF-Navigare team, finished 92nd in last year's Giro and placed second in two stages. It was not immediately clear if his team would be able to replace him before the start of the race.

The UCI, cycling's governing body, has been taking blood and urine samples from more than 800 professional riders since the start of the year in a testing program to issue each rider a so-called "biological passport." All riders in the Giro have a passport.