In the wake of the news that Riccardo Ricco has been admitted to hospital with kidney problems due to a self-administered blood transfusion, the following are a collection of quotes from Ricco himself, and from others discussing Ricco:
Daniel Friebe: “What about you Riccardo? What do you think when Millar wins a race and says loud and proud that he’s clean?
Riccardo Ricco: “I think he’d be better off keeping it to himself, knowing that he’s clean but not shouting it from the rooftops like he does. By doing that he makes it seem like everyone else isn’t clean.
DF: But the rest of you can do it too. Why don’t you say ‘I’m clean’ every time you win?
RR: Because we do all sorts of tests and there’s no need to tell everyone. As long as you know yourself, that’s enough. That’s my opinion. But then everyone’s entitled to behave as they see fit.
Pro Cycling Magazine – Shortly after Ricco announced himself to the cycling world by coming close to winning the 2007 Milan San Remo
“I’d much rather get a lot of press than none – it suggests that I’m doing something right. It’s like the reaction from other riders in the group; the papers keep writing that I’m not well liked by the senior figures in the peloton, but that’s because I’m winning. And if there’s anything worse than someone winning, it’s someone winning young. That doesn’t go down particularly well with some people. They want you to earn your spurs. But again, if winning means putting a few noses out of joint, I don’t mind.
Ricco, again speaking in Pro Cycling Magazine to Daniel Friebe.
July 18th 2008
“[I am] totally unaware of any doping practices going on in the team…We have always paid close attention to what our riders are doing, and have always demanded an irreproachable attitude to their profession and to our code of ethics. All our riders gave us guarantees that they were clean. Riccò swore on his mother’s head that he has never turned to illegal substances or means to improve his performance.”
Saunier Duval team manager Mauro Gianetti, after Ricco had tested positive at the 2008 Tour de France where he had won two stages.
July 19th 2008
“I’m very bitter. I spent a night in the police station and it was like being in prison. The magistrate listened to what I had to say. They searched my bags but only found some vitamins that we all use and so they decided to let me go home…I’m going to ask for the counter-analysis and then we’ll see.”
Ricco, after being questioned by police after testing positive at the 2008 Tour de France
July 30th 2008
“After the Giro, I had no plans to go to the Tour, and that is why I have taken the substance. I made a mistake of youth…Of the 10 controls taken, only two were positive. In theory all the tests should have been positive, therefore the method needs to be checked…My first thoughts go to my team and the staff who may have lost their jobs because of me, and my fellow team-mates who were forced to withdraw from the Tour de France.”
Ricco explaining why doped during the 2008 Tour de France
“When people said I was in danger of going the same way as Pantani, they were well wide of the mark”.
“It’s human nature to want to be stronger, better, more successful, more notorious, richer. And maybe it’s that instinct that entices you into making mistakes. Athletes have doping and Asterix and Obelix have their magic potion”.
“When you’re a father, you think twice before doing something stupid”.
Ricco, in an interview with Daniel Friebe in Pro Cycling Magazine
“I have Italian friends who, when they raced with [Ricco] at the age of 15, told me that he boasted about how he doped and he even showed them how he did it.”
Stuart O’Grady, in the same Pro Cycling Magazine article written by Daniel Friebe
January 13th 2010
“It’s like a parasite coming back into the sport. It’s not the fact of what he did, because everyone can make a mistake. But he doesn’t see it as a mistake. He’s not even sorry about it. The passion that I and other riders have for a beautiful sport, and for someone not to give a shit about it, it’s incredibly demoralising to have to compete against people like that. It’s hard for me to say whether he should have been given a life ban. What upsets me is the lack of regret for everybody and everything they’ve damaged.”
Mark Cavendish’s thoughts when he was asked about Riccardo Ricco, who was due to return to racing in March 2010 having served a 20-month ban for testing positive in the 2008 Tour de France.
January 18th 2010
“Why am I parasite? What does he mean when he says I’ve shown no remorse?. I even helped the anti-doping investigators and that’s why they gave me a 20-month ban instead of 24 months. Of course, he (Cavendish) is at the peak of his career and so he can say what he wants. I’m not going to respond because I’m the last person who can speak after what I did. He’s the number-one sprinter in the world and so he’s always right. I’m in the wrong and can’t respond until we see each other on the road. However I’m not that bothered about what he’s said or what he thinks. I can only guarantee people that I’m training hard and I’m already at a very good level.”
Ricco’s reaction to Cavendish’s comments about his return to the peloton.
January 31st 2010
“When I was found positive, I confessed everything. I was honest. I hope she does the same. People know I don’t like her racing, you can imagine what I think about her taking anything. Cycling isn’t for women, it hurts too much. The thing that bothers me is what people will think. I didn’t need this but I can’t go and kill myself. I’m going to carry on training. It’s a strange situation but it’s nothing to do with me. We’ll do the counter-analysis but in the meantime I’ve been splashed all over the newspapers.”
Ricco’s reaction to the news that his girlfriend and fellow professional cyclist, Vania Rossi had tested positive for the same drug Ricco had tested positive for in 2008, CERA.
February 13th 2010
“I am disappointed with my girlfriend and there can be no reconciliation until Vania is shown to be innocent of the allegations that were raised”.
Ricco commenting shortly after it was revealed that he had ended his relationship with Rossi.
March 1st 2010
“We’ve got a beautiful baby that needs a mum and a dad. I hope he comes back because I still love him. To be honest he wasn’t ready to support me, indeed he was angry because I’ve created him problems. Then he was excluded from Milan-San Remo. I haven’t seen him since then, except for a second with our respective lawyers, where he didn’t even speak to me. The only thing we should have done was to help each other. Instead he publicly humiliated me.”
Ricco’s girlfriend Vania Rossi’s reaction to being dumped following her positive dope test.
March 1st 2010
“I can’t expect people to believe in me now, I’ve got to prove it out on the road. I don’t think the tifosi are interested if there’s doping (in cycling) or not. They’re interested in the battle and competition. I don’t think real tifosi are interested in doping. If someone is a fan of Ricco, they still are now, even if he’s made a mistake or not.”
Ricco commenting shortly before his return to competitive racing.
September 28th 2010
“I think he’s surrounded by people who don’t advise him very well. But I think it’s very important we help him make a full rehabilitation. I’ve never spoken to him but I’d like to coach him and work with him closely; on a personal level, psychological level and how he communicates with people and with the media…I know that I’d put my hard-earned credibility at risk but it’s too easy to take up a challenge when you’ve got nothing to lose. Sometimes you’ve got to put your neck on the line for something important.”
Renowned anti-doping advocate and trainer Aldo Sassi discussing Ricco’s chances of competing without performance enhancing drugs.
October 23rd 2010
“I know that with [Riccò] I would risk my reputation but sometimes you have to step up for an important objective. If somebody doesn’t do it and doesn’t believe in this sport, how can things change?…I have a life expectancy that goes as far as July, [he is] my last gamble.
Aldo Sassi, after coming to an agreement with Ricco to organise his training regime, knowing that he had a terminal brain tumour.
November 12th 2010
“I’m doing it for myself, not for other people. It’s not intended to send a message. I have big objectives and Aldo can help me to achieve them – it’s that simple. When we had our chat, we spent next to no time talking about doping. There was no need – I was very clear on that score from the start. I definitely feel a very big responsibility towards Aldo, with what he’s going through. I really need to honour him on the bike.
Ricco commenting on his new relationship with Sassi.
January 11th 2011
“Aldo has sadly died. But his spirit still exists at the Mapei centre. I now work with people who worked with him these past fifteen years and using its methods. Working with Sassi has done a lot of good for my image, it’s true, but I especially want it to bear fruit. Before that I trained under my own sensations, with my feelings, now I am on a definite programme, plans, method of preparation. We analyze what I do, correctly, I’m busy writing a new chapter of my career…winning the Giro without doping is possible. For this, we must work and do our jobs correctly.”
Ricco’s comments in the wake of Sassi’s death.
January 29th 2011
“This year, I will finally have the chance to prove myself in the biggest races…[I am] aware of the expectations in hopes of seeking redemption with my fans.”
Ricco, days before he was admitted to hospital with kidney failure having attempted to carry out a blood transfusion on himself.