Riccardo Riccò is back on his bike but has revealed he will never race again and has denied he was rushed to hospital because of a botched blood transfusion.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport after journalist Luigi Perna tracked him down to his home in Formigine, near Modena, Riccò said his career was over and slammed the world of cycling, saying it makes him sick.
Ricco was rushed to hospital on February 6 after feeling ill over night. The doctor who first treated him is reported to have told police that Ricco’ admitted to transfusing blood that he’d kept in his fridge.
Riccò is still waiting to be questioned by Italian police and his medical records are still being studied by a legal expert but he was sacked by the Vacansoleil team after a rapid internal investigation.
Gazzetta dello Sport published a photograph of him wearing a yellow jersey under a black gillet. He seemed to have put on several kilogrammes but appeared healthy and smiled for the camera.
“I ride my bike just for fun. I started a week ago. I go out when I want, not every day. It’s nice and is relaxing. I talk with friends and stop for a coffee,” Riccò said.
“I’ve no desire to race again. Not at all. I’ve moved on. The cycling world disgusts me, it makes me sick. Everyone in it disgusts me. They wanted me to stop when I made my comeback. Now I will: Riccò has stopped. Leave me alone.”
Denies admitting to blood doping
Riccò claimed he has already been found guilty by the media but denied ever admitting to emergency doctors that he had undergone a blood transfusion.
“I’m waiting to be questioned. I wish it was all over quickly but I think it’ll go on and on. CONI (the Italian Olympic Committee) will ban me and it’ll all be over. That’s what they wanted.”
“But whatever the verdict I won’t race again. You (the media) have already decided the verdict. I haven’t read the papers but I’ve been told that you’ve already put me on trial. But this isn’t a doping case, I didn’t test positive but I’ve already been condemned as guilty.”
“I haven’t seen the police documents but I’ve got my medical records and there’s nothing written on them. It’s all been made up. He (the doctor) says one thing and I say another. But I was almost dead and don’t know what I could have said. Let’s see what the (blood) analysis says. I didn’t say absolutely anything to the doctor.”
Riccò refutes the idea that he should be grateful the Emergency Room doctor in his local hospital in Pavullo that saved his life.
“If I’d stayed in Pavullo, I’d have died,” Riccò responded. “They didn’t understand and luckily I was transferred to Baggiovara. That’s what I’ve been told because I didn’t understand what was going on. Yet they say I talked…”
Gazzetta dello Sport report that Riccò has made a full recovery from his heart and kidney problems and has been told he has not suffered any permanent damage.
A normal life
However Riccò has no plans to race again, insists he can look himself in the mirror and that he won’t miss cycling. He hopes to work as a barista and have a normal life, away from professional cycling.
“I haven’t got any health problems. I feel good and I’m riding my bike. They’ve told me I’ll make a full recovery and I’m not demoralised. It’s important to be able to live with yourself. I won’t miss cycling,” he said.
“Now I want to work as a barista, I’ve always liked the idea and I’ve already asked around. I want to start work like everybody else. Cycling has been my life until now. I’ve won stages at the Tour and the Giro but there’s more to live than cycling.
“I’ve got more friends outside the sport than people can imagine. I’ve got my family and a son. I’m going to look after them. I’m tired and I don’t like the cycling world any more. It’s better to have a basic job and earn 1000 Euro a month than, there are less things to worry about.”