Matteo Rabottini’s former team manager at Farnese Vini, Angelo Citracca, has called on people to help the troubled Italian rider after he said his life had become hell and he became estranged from his family after he tested positive for EPO in the summer of 2014.
Citracca now manages the Southeast team and revealed to Cyclingnews that he saw Rabottini a few months ago. He has since exchanged messages with him and his father and hopes they can resolve their differences and rebuild their relationship.
Citracca said he would like to help Rabottini if he eventually decided to make a comeback to professional cycling but explained that his hands are tied due to the series of doping cases in his teams in recent years. Citracca's team has lost sponsorship after doping cases involving Danilo di Luca, Mauro Santambrogio and in 2015 Panama's Ramon Carretero, who's father helped secure the Southeast sponsorship.
“It’s sad what has happened to Matteo. We considered legal action against him at first because his case damaged our team at the time and put the future of the team at risk. However we’ve spoken since and he apologised to us a couple of months ago. I wish him all the best, I know he’s a nice guy really but just made a big mistake in a moment of weakness.”
“I know his dad well and hope they can rebuild their relationship. I hope that Matteo can rebuild his life. I don’t know if that’s by making a comeback in some way or finding a job in cycling. I’d would love to help Matteo on a personal level but it’s not easy for a team like mine to sign him after his ban. My hands are tied. I’ve got to think about public opinion, what the media would write and the position of my sponsors. I’ve also got to think about the other riders and staff in the team. I can’t put their futures at risk because they deserve their place in the sport.”
In a long interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Rabottini revealed that his parents have stopped talking to him and he has split up with his long-term partner.
“I know what hell is like,” Rabottini said in a warning to young riders not to be tempted by doping. “My message is simple ‘Do not make the same mistake, because when you know, you do not want to return to that hell. I assure you. Trust me, if you lose everything, you won’t go back there.'”
Rabottini is remembered for winning the climber's jersey and the stage to Piani dei Resinelli at the 2012 Giro d'Italia. However he tested positive for EPO in an out-of-competition control in August of 2014. His suspension ends on May 6 this year after it was reduced by three months for cooperating with anti-doping authorities and naming the person who supplied him with EPO.
Cyclingnews understands that Rabottini was close to signing a contract with a WorldTour team in 2014. His UCI Biological Passport apparently showed no sign of doping but his career came to a sudden stop when it emerged he had tested positive.
On Thursday bike manufacturer Ernesto Colnago admitted he been moved by Rabottini’s confession and called on him to make up with his family.
“I just hope that someone like Colnago, who has done so much for Italian cycling, can help him. That’d be great. Perhaps someone else can help him find a job and so he can start to rebuild his life. He’s going through a rough time but he knows he’s not alone. I’m optimistic he’ll find a solution to his problems and bounce back," Citracca said.