Ever wondered where unrepentant doper Riccardo Ricco would draw the line? Motor doping, apparently.
From botched DIY blood transfusions to being caught red-handed trying to buy EPO and testosterone in a McDonald's car park, Ricco’s career was defined by drugs to such an extent that he eventually managed to land himself a 12-year ban.
Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, he has said that he nevertheless plans to return to racing when that ban expires.
"I'll be 40 when my ban ends in 2023. I'll be competitive. If I was training now, I'd be stronger than ever, I feel it. Some teams want me and if not I'd create my own team. Whatever, sooner or later I'll be back racing."
Asked if he was ever afraid of doping, Ricco replied: "I was only ever scared of being caught. That's why I always did less than I was told to. I was never scared of damaging my health.
"I got my doping from a person I trusted. The black market is huge and even the pharmaceutical companies play their part, but they're untouchable. I worked with Dr Santuccione – he was a great person. I never wanted to go with Dr Ferrari because I couldn't stand the idea that he could decide the results of races. Ferrari had loads of riders. He decided the classification."
So it seems safe to assume that should this mooted middle-aged return actually happen, we probably shouldn’t expect to see a reborn anti-doping campaigner.
“I think that chemical [doping] helps under medical control, even if it's called doping, and does less damage than the effort of riding the Tour de France on bread and water.
"I want to add that I prefer chemical doping to mechanical doping. At least you have the courage to take your own risks. Mechanical doping means it's a different sport. I'd never have been able to use it. I'd have felt like a shit."
So 2023 – that’s when he’ll be back. Make a note.
As for how he’ll keep himself busy in the meantime…
"I've now got an ice cream shop in Tenerife. I even make ice cream for dogs. Things are going well. Perhaps it's because I'm now working but I think I've changed. I like making ice cream but there's nothing like my love for cycling.”
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