Riccò suffered a sudden kidney ailment last Sunday and is alleged to have admitted to doctors that he had performed a blood transfusion on himself. Contador returned a positive test for Clenbuterol at the 2010 Tour de France and has repeatedly claimed that the traces of the substance were caused by consuming contaminated meat.
“I lived an era in which all of us were champions, now it’s the opposite,” Freire told AS. “Everyday you have more madmen in this sport. I hope that they ban Riccò for life. I don’t know if it’s that they don’t know the rules or that they don’t care about the risk. It’s very disheartening because the public think we’re all the same. And even though you see that it’s not like that, nobody believes you.”
While Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has been among those to publicly support Alberto Contador in recent days, Freire was more circumspect in his commentary on the case and was reluctant to speculate on the veracity of Contador’s claim that the positive test was caused by eating contaminated meat.
“I don’t know,” he told AS when asked for an opinion on the matter. “It doesn’t look at all good.
“According to him, yes [the positive was caused by meat consumption]; according to the people, no. And given what’s happening in cycling, I can’t believe in anybody anymore.”
Freire was critical of the media’s handling of the affair, however, and said that the matter was very damaging to cycling.
“The same journalists rush to write things without checking anything,” he said. “Everything is very confusing. It doesn’t look good at all. I wish that nothing had happened, but the damage is done.”
Freire also lamented the lack of unity among riders on the issues that affect them and said that the recent solidarity in relation to race radios came about as a result of the efforts of the teams’ association AIGCP rather than from pressure from the riders themselves.
“I’ve noticed that the rule among cyclists is ‘every man for himself.’ It always has been,” he said. “If you now have unity against the banning of earpieces it’s because the manager have an interest. The rider doesn’t move by himself.”
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