Riccardo Ricco has left France and is heading back to Italy after formally being placed under investigation for “using illegal substances? but has promised he will clear his name and make a come back.
Ricco left Foix, near the Pyrenees, with his girlfriend Vania and her mother in his white Porsche Cayenne after being questioned by a judge for 90 minutes.
He was protected by dozens of police officers as he entered and left the court and was not allowed to talk to the press. When he first arrived at the courtroom he pulled up his hood, looking like any other suspected criminal but then walked head high into the court room.
Still defiant despite spending a night in police custody, Ricco denied taking EPO to the French judge but was a little more hesitant when he spoke to Alessandra di Stefano of Italian RAI television after stopping on the autoroute.
?I?m very bitter. I spent a night in the police station and it was like being in prison,? Ricco said.
?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.?
Asked if he had ever used EPO, Ricco said: ?You?ll find out in the next few days. I?m going to see my lawyer tomorrow and we?ll start my defence.
Ricco was not surprised to hear that he had been sacked by Saunier Duval team manager Mauro Gianetti.
?It?s normal, it?s the standard routine of the teams, that?s what they have to do. I?m going to ask for the counter-analysis and then we?ll see.?
Asked to give a message to all the people who had admired him on television when he won stages in the Tour de France, Ricco was defiant to the end.
?I?ll be back and be stronger than ever,? he said.