Riccardo Ricco: Croatian snake.
Common reptilian trait of snakes: slippery.
Double doper Ricardo Ricco is attempting to slip past the Italian anti-doping authorities by getting a license with the Croatian cycling federation.
It’s a delusional and desperate move by the rider nicknamed the Cobra. But then, what kind of logic would you expect from somebody who transfuses stale blood they’d left in the fridge for 25 days?
Ricco will face the Italian Olympic Committee’s anti-doping tribunal on February 3rd for what’s expected to be the final verdict on the botched transfusion. Should he be convicted, he faces an extremely long suspension as this would be his second offense — the first being his positive test for CERA at the 2008 Tour de France.
Ricco has also taken the unusual step of changing his name to one with a more Croatian flavor. On the application for the license, he wrote his name as Ratko Zmija. Showing his whimsical side, Ricco admitted that Zmila is the Croatian word for snake. It’s understood that the small Serbian team Meridiana Kamen team is part of the application.
At a news conference in Zagreb, the defiant Ricco — now Zmija — vowed to return to racing at all costs. “I will change my license, my name, I will take a Croatian bride. Italy doesn’t not want me and therefore I am free to set my own destiny,” said Ricco.
The Italian then produced a DVD from Rosetta Stone, the popular language learning software. “I am already on lesson seven. Croatian is a beautiful language, much more so than Italian,” said Ricco. “The grammar is a challenge, but my pronunciation is excellent.” He then recited the Lord’s Prayer in Croatian for startled observers.
Officials from Meridiana Kamen refused comment on their involvement with the controversial Italian climber.