Family and friends?
We’d like some precision on that, if you don’t mind.
“Family and friends” is taken from a Velonews article about an evening with Riccardo Ricco and his supporters at what we’re assuming is a sports hall outside of Modena.
The phrase and the omission were perhaps the most interesting parts of the story. Ricco does have a family: his partner Vania Rossi and a young son. While we can’t jump to conclusions, if his family were there it would have been news and the zero mention certainly warrants a cynical shrug. The absence is also news.
After Vania, herself a pro cyclist, tested positive for EPO, Ricco wasted no time cutting ties. He was quoted with statements that focused on himself as any ego maniac would — how could she do this to me? He left her and his con behind to fend for themselves.
Ricco got the forgiveness-bump when well-respected coach Aldo Sassi agreed to train him. Sassi was an out-spoken fighter against doping in cycling. The association did much to rehabilitate the Cobra’s image.
In particular, Sassi said it was important for Ricco to return to winning for his family. Still coaching as he suffered the hammer blows of chemo, Sassi saw something in Ricco that perhaps others had missed. But now Sassi is dead and we’re wondering if he was blind all along. He saw a man who was actually a snake.
Family and friends. What kind of family we’re wondering, what kind of friends? Life is hard, relationships are hard, parenting is hard. We’re guessing the sad and beautiful Vania was not there at the sports hall outside Modena. We’ll also assume she tucked in her son that night by herself without the help of Mr. Ricco.
Maybe that’s all for the best. Perhaps the presence of Ricco would be more destructive than beneficial to his young son. We’re not in a position to judge. But the phrase “friends and family” do look out of place next to Ricco’s name.