Vacansoleil suspends Ricco. Damage control begins.
Something about chickens or vultures or more precisely cobras coming home to roost.
A story about faulty decision-making, bad karma and shit mist.
Vacansoleil is now in full back-pedal away from Riccardo Ricco, after the news of his alleged doping with a stale bag of blood and possible confession in a Modena hospital as his kidneys were shutting down.
The team we like to call the Sunny Vacationers is now paying the price for dangerous risks taken to move up the ProTeam ladder. By signing Riccardo Ricco, they hoped they were getting the clean Ricco, the Aldo Sassi version of the flashy Italian climber, an ex-Cobra. The odds were not favorable, especially in hindsight.
The fall-out is still falling and we’ll wait for the italian anti-doping authorities to finish their investigations but Vacansoleil has suspended Ricco. Their statement read in part: “Internal research results following the illness and rumors regarding Riccò have given the team sufficient reason to suspend Italian with immediate effect.” In other words, Riccardo, don’t bother checking out of the hospital any time soon.
According to the team, they sent a registered letter to Ricco informing him of the suspension. What — no personal visit and condolences at bedside? Seems pretty cold to us but betrayal rarely brings out the best in anyone. Revenge is a dish best served with registered mail.
In fact, a hospital is probably the safest place for Ricco right now. The rider has been damned and condemned by just about everyone in cycling from Fabian Cancellara to Mark Cavendish to Italian National coach Paolo Bettini.
If Twisted Spoke was in charge, we’d have a suicide watch on Ricco around the clock. We fear for someone so weak who has lost everything. As Garmin-Cervelo’s Jonathan Vaughters tweeted, Ricco is still a human- being
Vacansoleil management is in serious damage control mode because they’ve actually got two major doping problems. One in critical care and one waiting for the axe to drop. New signing Ezequiel Mosquera is still under suspicion after testing positive during the Vuelta for Hydroxyethyl starch, a possible masking agent. His second place finish is in jeopardy, as well as his career. No news whatsoever on when the B sample will be analyzed or when the UCI, WADA or Spanish Cycling federation will address his case. A true Twilight Zone episode.
However, if you’re the guy writing the sponsorship checks at Vacansoleil, you’ve got a migraine and another coming soon. So it’s time for Plan B and putting some corporate distance between vacation camping business and allegedly doped cyclist.