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Riccardo Riccò’s personal soigneur Flavio Mongiardo has denied any involvement in the Italian rider’s alleged botched blood transfusion. He has also suggested that Riccò was in such a critical condition when he was taken to hospital that he would not have been able to confess to undergoing a blood transfusion.
Mongiardo was sacked by the Vacansoleil team on Friday but is threatening to take legal action against the team. He revealed he is in a relationship with Riccò’s sister and defended Riccò’, describing him as ‘an exceptional person.’
“I’ve been doing this job for 20 years and now nobody wants anything to do with me,” Mongiardo lamented to Gazzetta dello Sport.
“I’ve got nothing to hide. I’ve got nothing to do with what happened. I’m not under investigation and the investigating magistrate hasn’t contacted me. I’ve been distanced (from the team) without a valid reason despite having a year-long contract and so the team will have to pay for that.”
“In the letter they sent me on Friday the team has justified my sacking with the fact that I don’t speak English, that I only work with Riccò and that I’m close to his family. I respond to that by saying that I also worked with other riders and that I followed two races: The Tour Méditerranéen and in Portugal, and Riccò’ wasn’t there...” At the time Riccò was in a critical condition in hospital.
An exceptional person
Mongiardo worked for the Astana team until last summer, before joining Vacansoleil with Riccò. He went to live to in Serramazzoni, close to Riccò’s home, in November. He insisted he only gave Riccò massages and denied seeing Riccò when he became ill. However he revealed he is in a relationship with Riccò’s sister Melissa.
“I went to his house just to give him massage. But there’s also a personal link…” he said. “I’ve been in a relationship with Riccò’s sister since last April. I consider myself Riccò’s friend. He’s an exceptional person. Sometimes we all go out together.”
“I saw him at nine o’clock on the Saturday morning before he went training. I know he got back at 3pm. He was supposed to have a massage but I didn’t see him because I went shopping with his sister.”
“On Sunday morning I went to his house and his mum told me he that he was ill. I got to the hospital in Pavullo at about nine or nine thirty, before he was transferred to Baggiovara (hospital). Riccardo was in a critical condition. He had a temperature of 42C and a maximum (systolic) blood pressure of 45.”
Mongiardo believes Riccò’s condition was so serious that he would not have been able to confess to a botched blood transfusion to the doctor who treated him.
“There was no way he could have spoken to anybody in that condition. And if I’m question (by police), I’ll say that.” Mongiardo said.