ROME, Italy (AFP) ─ Riccardo Riccò has vowed to quit cycling after being sacked by his Vacansoleil team following reports he tried to give himself a blood transfusion.
Last month Italian press cited an unnamed doctor who claimed that Riccò had fallen ill after carrying out a transfusion of his own blood from a three-week-old refrigerator-stored bag that he feared had gone bad.
Interviewed for an article that appeared in Saturday’s Gazzetta dello Sport, Riccò claimed he is done with professional cycling.
“I don’t want to race anymore, no chance. I’ve turned the page, I’m fed up with the cycling world, it makes me want to vomit,” he said. “I’m fed up with everyone in cycling. They already wanted me to stop when I came back but now enough’s enough, Riccò is no more.”
Riccò, who won two stages at the 2008 Tour de France, was ejected from the race after a positive test for a continuous erythropoietin receptor activator (CERA), the third generation of erythropoietic-stimulating agents, a group of drugs that promote the production of red blood cells. Riccò returned from the consequent 20-month ban last March, but now faces new investigations by both the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) and prosecutor in the city of Modena.
Despite the doctor’s reports that Riccò had told him he’d given himself a transfusion ─ which amounts to banned blood doping ─ the 27-year-old seemed to claim he was innocent.
“It’s not a case of doping, I haven’t tested positive but I’ve already been convicted,” he added before disputing the doctor’s version of events.
“I haven’t seen any documents, all I have is a medical certificate and there’s nothing on it, only made up phrases. He (the doctor) says this, I say something else. I was a bit out of it and I don’t know what I might have said (at the time),” Riccò said. “We’ll see from the tests who is telling the truth.”
Ricco’s own father Rubinho had claimed his son could have been suffering from kidney problems when he was in hospital but Riccò says he’s fine.
“I don’t have health problems. I’m well and I still ride my bike. They told me I’d be as good as before,” added Riccò.
“I’m not demoralized. The important thing is to have a clear conscience. I don’t miss cycling.
“I’ll work in a bar,” he said. “I’ve always liked that idea. I want to start working like everyone else. I have a family and a son. I’m tired and I don’t like this world any more. I’d prefer to work in a factory for 1,000 Euros (a month), there’s less to think about.”
If found guilty of a second doping offense, Riccò risks a lifetime ban from competition.