Riccardo Ricco is happy to return to cycling but lashed out against those who accused him of doping during his recent health problems. The controversial Italian again insisted, “I have not done anything.”
After rumours of being offered a contract with Amore e Vita, it was announced Wednesday that Ricco would sign with the Croatian Continental-ranked Meridiana-Kamen team, and start n the Tour of Serbia later this month.
The 27-year-old served a twenty-month suspension for doping and started this season for Vacansoleil-DCM. In February he was hospitalised in critical condition, allegedly telling a doctor that he had given himself a blood transfusion. He later denied having said that. Vacansoleil later fired him.
“My position is very clear: I have not done anything, I was hospitalised for kidney failure, a problem that could happen to anyone, even to that individual who leads a perfect life,” he said in a statement issued to the press.
“Regarding my serenity, I can say I have never been so calm. This experience made me realise who the real people are to trust. It made me realise that, to combat doping in cycling we do not want to confess, but to get facts.”
His new team has welcomed him, “with open arms and I do not have any problem. I would rather hear from the person who represents me as a cyclist, that my return is an important event to get a rider who has - in the past - atoned for his penalty and is now involved in an absurd situation, rather than lending credence to the words of a doctor (who should keep his profession a secret of Honour) and justifying the behaviour of a World Tour team, who dismisses a rider without good cause.”
Ricco lamented the position of a cyclist accused of doping, reflecting on how it was to be, “in the hospital struggling between life and death, with no one prepared to defend you before a public that is longing to confirm that 'cyclists are all doped.' “
He extended his sympathy to Giro d'Italia winner Alberto Contador, who is awaiting the Court of Arbitration hearing on his positive doping control from the 2010 Tour de France. “The Spaniard is in yet another farce of cycling, embroiled in doping affairs that have little to do with cycling or anything.”
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