Beyond words-or actual words would be only expletives-would describe my reaction to Riccardo Ricco’s positive test for EPO and a newish EPO like drug called CERA.
Like synthetic erythropoietin (rEPO), CERA was developed to as a treatment for the anemia that results from chronic kidney disease. Unlike single injections of rEPO, CERA interacts with erythropoietin receptors and has a longer-lasting effect.
Velonews: Riccardo Ricco tests positive; Saunier Duval team withdraws from Tour de France
It is incomprehensible that a rider would take such a chance in this current environment and dope to win a race. Ricco raised suspicions with his Pantani like performance causing many to immediately warn the young Ricco not to emulate Pantani in his methods of preparation for racing in addition to his racing style. Apparently those warnings were too late since Ricco thought that taking EPO and/or CERA was a smart thing to do and would help his career. Now Ricco sits in a police station in France and will most likely face a two year ban. His Saunier Duval team will have to pay a heafty fine. Ricco must also pay back his salary too. The fines are probably not devastating to Ricco especially since most Italian men will live at home until married, so financially he won’t be out on the street.
Ricco’s astounding performances in the Tour had many cheering for the brash Italian who talked as much as he attacked during the Tour. Ricco had few friends in the peloton since his brashness would be directed to other racers including Vincenzo Nibali and Fillippo Pozzato to name a few.
Last year Ricco was mentored by Gilberto Simoni on the Saunier Duval team. Simoni has often been critical of dopers such as Pantani and Ivan Basso in the past. Simoni who himself had a positive drug result for cocaine (blame Grandma’s gift from a South American trip) seemed to be the cross bearer for Itralian non–dopers. Simoni’s insinuation that Ivan Basso was an Extra-Terrestrial in the 2006 Giro was seen as sour grapes at first, but was later vilified when Basso was implicated as part of the Operation Puerto affair. Naturally as Ricco was brought on and mentored by Simoni you would think that a strong anti-doping ideal would be part of Ricco’s racing ethic. When you choose to be brash and speak out against others you must make sure you own house is in order so that one day you are not a hypocrite. Unfortunaly Ricco at the brash indestructible age of 24 thought that he had it all figured out. Going to the Tour and dominating the climbs would boost his career. All he needed was a little “helper” and you have some great performances to go down in Tour history. Now Ricco is joining the pantheon of racers such as Alexandre Vinokourov and Floyd Landis who brought instant shame to them selves in the biggest race of the year.
Now when anyone has an unusually spectacular performance such as an upset time trial win, or gaining back 8 minutes in a solo mountain break or dropping everyone Pantani style in the mountains will bring instant speculation. I was a little perturbed that Ricco’s performance brought more suspicion than praise, but rumors were already swirling at the Tour that Ricco’s numbers were a little shady.
Now let’s hope Ricco goes into his two year ban and goes to a trade school or something else. Just don’t come back to cycling please Mr. Ricco, you have done your damage now go away.