Vacansoleil suspends Ricco. Damage control begins.

Ricco. Vacation plans over.

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.

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  • Magnifico

    This kid has doped his entire career, it's no shock. The shock is how the blood-transfusing has been driven underground like an old coat-hanger abortion! Tricky Ricky didn't even read the instructions included in the recent Kimmage-Landis interview about keeping some ice cubes floating in the water containing your blood bag(s)! They gotta get the plastic molecule test perfected and bust a few transfusers for nothing other than having too much plastic in their peepee. They'll claim it was caused by drinking from a plastic bottle or the wrappings on the steak from Spain but once they set a threshold for the levels, these guys will get busted, or start using old glass milk bottles to store their blood – might that work? Who'd suspect the milkman showing up at your door in the morning? The "milk" is a bit off-color this morning, but who will care?

    • http://www.atwistedspoke.com TwistedSpoke

      Magnifico, it's the excuse the teams would used for organized doping — better we do it with real doctors than have the guys do it themselves with bad consequences. Matt