The Tour of Murcia boycotts Italian teams in support of Alejandro Valverde
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Thursday, February 04, 2010

Murcia boycotts Italian teams to support Valverde

by VeloNation Press at 4:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
 

This year the organizer of the Tour of Murcia, Paco Guzmán, has decided to boycott Italian teams from his race to show support for Spaniard Alejandro Valverde. Last year the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) banned Valverde from racing in Italy for two years due to his alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto blood doping scandal.

According to the Spanish newspaper Marca, Guzmán said, "There will be no Italian teams participating [in the Tour of Murcia] because Valverde is not welcome [to race] in that country [Italy]."

Valverde hails from the Murcia region of Spain which has motivated the organizer to act. The Tour of Murcia is used by many riders as part of their build up for the season and, while there is no list, presumably some Italian teams will now be forced to change their racing programs.

Clearly Italian teams had nothing to do with the suspension of Valverde, so the reasoning behind the organizers decision is questionable. It is yet to be seen whether his move will motivate a show of solidarity by the teams currently participating in the race to reverse the decision or, worse yet, cause some major problems for Spanish teams that typically race on Italian soil.

An appeal against the Italian doping ban lodged by Valverde was heard last month by the Court of Arbitration in Sport (CAS), but a decision in the case is not expected until March.  The Caisse d'Epargne rider will also be forced to defend himself at another hearing in March, where the UCI and WADA will challenge the Spanish Cycling Federation's non-action with respect to the evidence that could implicate him in Operación Puerto.  If Valverde loses, he faces the prospect of his Italian ban from the sport being extended globally.

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