To mangle some Grateful Dead lyrics, “what a long strange transfusion it’s been.”
Today the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) requested a twelve-year ban for Riccardo Riccò. The tangled case has been nothing but bizarre since the talented and tragic climber was rushed to a hospital with his kidneys shutting down after a botched blood transfusion.
He admitted to hospital staff that he’d taken a bag of stale and improperly stored blood out of his fridge and given himself the transfusion. Then later he insisted he’d never said anything like that at all. His Vacansoleil team terminated him while he lay in a hospital bed.
Four months later he attempted yet another comeback with the little Croatian Meridiana-Kamen squad but both CONI and the Italian Cycling Federation hit him with a temporary suspension while they waited for the doping investigation to finish.
Many news stories this week indicated that Ricco had finally confessed to CONI about his blood transfusion. However, his lawyer Fiorenzo Alessi contradicted that, claiming Ricco had only said under oath that it was an iron solution.
Well, the case is now finished and so is Riccardo Ricco. First there was the two year ban for CERA-EPO at the 2008 Tour de France. Now a recommended twelve year ban on this home transfusion.
The official language from CONI is that Ricco is in “violation of article 2.2 of the WADA code.” Given that this is his second offense, you could also nail him on several counts of “stupidity.”
Superstar sprinter Mark Cavendish once famously called Ricco a parasite. Well, we can expand the tag to unemployed parasite.
Still there is a small sliver of hope for the Cobra. He can return to professional cycling at age 40. After all, if old man Davide Rebellin is racing at 40, why not Ricco. He simply needs to find a work alternative for those twelve years.
Ricco once talked about becoming a barista. Give the man 12 years to practice and he’ll certainly make one incredible espresso.