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Valentino Rossi has been criticised by a fellow MotoGP star after he reportedly attended his girlfriend’s birthday party before testing positive for COVID-19.
Rossi, a nine-times MotoGP world champion, tested positive for COVID-19 and was forced to miss last weekend’s Aragon Grand Prix.
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It has since emerged that the 41-year-old flew to France last week to attend girlfriend Francesca Sofia Novello's 27th birthday bash.
According to Spanish outlet Marca, Rossi took a private jet to attend Novello's celebrations.
Rossi tested positive just two days after his girlfriend’s party, with fellow rider Pol Espargaro slamming the Italian legend.
“Everyone has a personal responsibility to know the risk that exists,” Espargaro said.
“Those who want to race cannot go to birthdays or private parties.
“At home I don't see friends, I don't go to a restaurant or anything.
“This season is peculiar and the one who suffers the most damage is the driver who is infected with the coronavirus because he is forced to skip races.
“I am alone with my wife and daughter and we use extreme precautions: I wash my hands 30 times a day and I always wear a mask.
“When I want to go home after a race I ask for permission, and like everyone else, to return to the paddock I have to present a negative test.
“For example, Valentino will miss two races and therefore the championship is compromised for him. Two races out, he will pay a lot. Everyone is responsible for their actions.”
A post shared by FRANCESCA SOFIA NOVELLO (@francescasofianovello) on
Rossi becomes latest high-profile athlete with virus
Rossi and fellow Italian national sporting hero, multiple world swimming champion Federica Pellegrini, became the latest major sporting names to be hit by the virus.
The news also came on a day when there were more question marks over whether the Giro d'Italia, one of the world's great cycle races, should be called off as another leading team declared that the tour should be ended a week early.
It was also announced on Thursday that European soccer clubs could lose an estimated 5.2 to 6.3 billion euros ($6.1-7.4 billion) in revenues due to the impact of the pandemic, while in American Football, the Atlanta Falcons shut down their facility following one new positive test for COVID-19.
Rossi becomes the first MotoGP rider to contract the illness.
“Unfortunately this morning I woke up and I was not feeling good,” he tweeted.
“My bones were sore and I had a slight fever, so I immediately called the doctor who tested me twice.
“The 'quick PCR test' result was negative, just like the test I underwent on Tuesday but the second one, of which the result was sent to me at 4pm this afternoon, was unfortunately positive.
“I am so disappointed that I will have to miss the race at Aragon.
“I am sad and angry because I did my best to respect the protocol, and although the test I had on Tuesday was negative, I self-isolated since my arrival from Le Mans (following the French Grand Prix at the weekend).”
The 32-year-old Pellegrini, who intends to take part in her fifth and final Olympic Games in Tokyo next year, was due to leave for the International Swimming League event in Budapest but felt unwell after training on Wednesday.
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