Cycling-Unidentified tablets taken from Ricco home


Thu, 30 Sep 15:09:00 2010

* Ricco home raided in doping probe

* Italian not under investigation as tablets not yet tested

Police seized around 50 unidentified tablets at the home of top Italian cyclist Riccardo Ricco last week as part of a doping probe, a source close to the investigation said on Thursday.

Ricco, who returned from a 20-month doping ban in March, is not under formal investigation because the contents of the tablets have not yet been verified, the source added.

"However, his name has been passed to prosecutors while we wait for the tablets to be tested," the source said, adding that it will take some time for the results.

Ricco could not immediately be reached for comment.

Police said last week they had raided around 40 homes in a long-running probe into doping among professional and amateur cyclists as well as other amateur sportsmen.

Professional cyclist Enrico Rossi, the brother of Ricco's girlfriend Vania, was among those arrested on conspiracy to traffic illegal doping substances.

Mountain biker Vania was cleared of doping accusations earlier this year.

The source said that although the raid on Ricco's home near Modena in northern Italy came at the same time as the arrest of Rossi, the two cases are not linked.

Nicknamed the Cobra, Ricco was banned for doping at the 2008 Tour de France and when news broke last week about Rossi's arrest, he told Italian media: "I can't take it anymore, I'm tired. Leave me in peace. It's a nightmare."

Ricco made his return to action in March with small team Ceramica Flaminia but they were not invited to May's Giro d'Italia. He recently joined the Vacansoleil team.

News of the medicines being taken away comes on the same day that Tour de France champion Alberto Contador was provisionally suspended by the International Cycling Union (UCI) for a positive test.

Tour of Spain runner-up Ezequiel Mosquera and another Spaniard also failed tests for a banned substance, the UCI said.

Cycling has long battled a severe doping problem and Italy has been especially badly hit with former Giro winner Danilo De Luca among those currently banned.

Top sprinter Alessandro Petacchi is waiting for a verdict from Italy's anti-doping body over alleged links to another lengthy probe into illegal drugs in another part of the country.

He denies wrongdoing.


Not already a Yahoo! user ? to get a free Yahoo! Account