Today Riccardo Ricco was drummed out of professional cycling by Italian authorities but I take no pleasure in seeing the 'Cobra" defanged for life.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

In fact sadness is the feeling. For him and the blatant double
standards that exist in the sport.

Sure there may be degrees of
doping. From the young first timer to the hard men that see doping as a
fact of life. Ricco clearly exists at the sharp end of that spectrum but
did he deserve a life sentence? The ultimate scapegoat, the treatment of whom knows no limits because he is unpopular. Most likely he has doped like many who retain status and admiration in cycling. I
can't help but feel the same. In fact that was my first thought on
hearing the news this morning of a 12-year ban for Ricco (effectively a
life ban) which came after the announcement of an admission of guilt by Denis Galimzyanov who was pinged this week by the anti-doping authorities for EPO use earlier this season.

And lets not get into the detail of Galimzyanov's odd handwritten "confession' because that incident has left us with more questions than answers.

And
then I thought of the hypocritical comments from one of the guys who
does retain status and admiration in cycling, Erik Zabel, former
sprinting mentor to Mark Cavendish at HTC-Highroad and now Denis
Galimzyanov at Katusha.

Followed up by another. Sergeant Schultz style:

Don't come back? This from a guy who remains gainfully employed and respected in the sport? That's a bit rich. Erik knows nothing, nothing at all.

I've
always viewed Riccardo Riccardo as a kind of whipping boy for all that
ails professional cycling. And I sometimes think he is hated more by
fans for his unrepentant recidividist attitude than his doping
transgressions. In fact Zabel and others prove the case.

Maybe if
Ricco had admitted to doping "just that one time" like Zabel and
others have done before he'd be well on the road to redemption and racing in
May's Giro d'Italia and may be forgiven (but not forgotten) by fans for
utterly ruining the 2008 Tour de France, along with his Saunier-Duval
team.

I hope the still young Ricco will see this as a
blessing and an opportunity to get on with his life, one that can easily
be lived without cycling. And maybe Erik Zabel should also join him on the sidelines.