Valverde ban upheld, CAS appeal dismissed
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Valverde ban upheld, CAS appeal dismissed

by VeloNation Press at 8:45 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping

Alejandro Valverde’s attempt to overturn his ban on racing in Italy has failed and the rider will be unable to compete in the country until May 10, 2011.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport has yet to officially announce the news but, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, this morning the Italian Olympic Committee CONI and Valverde’s lawyers were sent the details of the judgement.

That decision has asserted the right of CONI to ban Valverde in this case, saying that the decision was correct according to Italian anti-doping law and CONI’s own rules.

The latter reportedly obtained a DNA match between samples of Valverde’s blood taken during anti-doping procedures during the 2008 Tour de France and blood bags seized in the Operation Puerto raids in May 2006.

Valverde has always denied doping, but inconsistencies in his evidence appeared to be uncovered during the CAS hearing, held in Switzerland between January 12th and 14th.

The blood bag was identified by the code ‘Valv.Piti’. Operacion Puerto ringleader Eufemiano Fuentes often used the names of riders’ pets as codewords, but Valverde denied owning a dog called Piti. However this was contradicted by a Spanish journalist, who interviewed the rider at home just before the Puerto raids took place.

Although he seldom races in Italy, the ban has already had an effect on Valverde’s programme as last year’s Tour de France briefly entered the country. He proposed competing up until the sixteenth stage, but Tour organisers ASO barred him from riding the event.

Under UCI rules, the governing body can extend a ban worldwide. Given that it has long believed that Valverde was involved in Operación Puerto, it is likely that the UCI is already considering such a move. However it is likely that such a ban would only run until the Italian suspension ends next May.

On Thursday, the UCI and the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) will begin a separate CAS appeal against Valverde and the Spanish Cycling Federation, seeking to force the latter to impose a sanction on the rider.

If this is successful, it could see a fresh ban imposed on Valverde, ruling him out of action until 2012.

Despite his long-running link with the Puerto investigations, Valverde has managed to avoid any international sanctions. He has continued to earn a multi-million euro salary and to win major events, including last year’s Vuelta a España.

Antonio Serrano, the Spanish judge presiding over the judicial investigation, has blocked all moves to allow sporting sanctions, and has been accused by some of protecting the athletes involved. Equally serious is the suggestion that other sports such as soccer, basketball and tennis have been shielded, with cycling being the only one to have suffered any repercussions.

Valverde vows to fight ban, UCI determined to extend


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