Italian Riccardo Riccò faces a second doping investigation and the possibility of a lifetime ban depending on what police uncover in today’s raids in Italy.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper, Italy’s Anti-Narcotics Group (NAS) carried out six arrests and 40 searches this morning in an investigation named “Cobra-Red” after Riccò and his brother-in-law, team Ceramica Flaminia cyclist Enrico Rossi. “Il Cobra” is Riccò’s nickname and Red is the English translation for Rossi.

The NAS, acting on orders of prosecutor Sergio Sottani, arrested a professional cyclist, two amateurs, a sports journalist, a pharmacist and a nurse near the southern cities of Rome and Rimini.

There are 35 people involved, including six professionals, 15 amateur cyclists, sports doctors, trainers, pharmacists and gym members. The searches were carried out from the south to the north of Italy, in 12 different provinces: Rimini, Forlì-Cesena, Modena, Prato, Bergamo, Reggio Emilia, Milano, Pistoia, Parma, Latina, Perugia and Bari.

This year, Riccò returned from his suspension. He raced with team Ceramica Flaminia and won a stage at Settimana Lombarda, a stage at Giro del Trentino, and two stages and the overall Tour of Austria. He agreed to pay the team €75,000 to end his contract one year early and joined Dutch team Vacansoleil last month.

Riccò raced with team Saunier Duval from 2006 to 2008. He won three stages of the Giro d’Italia and in 2008, finished second behind Alberto Contador. At the Tour de France two months later, he tested positive for blood booster EPO-CERA.

The French anti-doping agency (AFLD) only announced the result on July 17, after he had won two stages (Super-Besse and Bagnères-de-Bigorre). He subsequently lost his stage wins and served a 20-month suspension.

Related links
Ricco leaves Flaminia, plans for Tour return in 2011
Ricco’s doping suspension shortened
Ricco positive for EPO at Tour de France (2008)

  • Barry

    Albert, not sure what sort of Italian dictionary you have but in mine rossi is indeed red in Italian.

  • albert

    Rossi is not red in italian… Please. Cobra-Red is a TV character.

  • Malcolm

    I agree with the other comment that a two year ban just isn’t long enough, I think 5 years would deter more people. Certainly for someone in their late twenties a 5 year ban would probably mean the end of their career if they were caught and might therefore make them think twice before cheating.

    A second offence should definitely mean a lifetime ban.

  • Herb Case

    Is anyone surprised?

  • adam

    OK… so not yet guilty and quite possibly completely innocent….

    But…. let’s say i won’t be surprised if he’s not completely innocent. Is that the nicest way of saying it?

    And if he’s not innocent, then cheerio mate. You and your attitude won’t be missed.

  • Graham Galpin

    Whilst I have in the past had a forgiving nature for such transgressions, a two year ban for the first offence seemed adequate, then fogive and forget, I begin to feel that these cheats should be banned for life after one strike. Sadly this “final solution” seems the only way to stop recidivists besmirching our sport’s reputation.