Ag2r-La Mondiale reinstates Valjavec after biological passport ruling
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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Ag2r-La Mondiale reinstates Valjavec after biological passport ruling

by Conal Andrews at 7:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Doping
Team must allow rider to resume racing

Tadej ValjavecWhile there have been some suggestions that he is reluctant to do so, Ag2r La Mondiale team manager Vincent Lavenu has said that he has reinstated the Slovenian rider Tadej Valjavec to the squad, and that he will be able to resume racing.

Valjavec was suspended in May after the UCI said that his biological passport profile was suspicious, and that disciplinary proceedings should be opened.

However, unlike most other riders in that position, his national federation has decided not to sanction him.

"In the eyes of the law and sports authorities of his country, he is not sanctioned and is therefore innocent,” Lavenu told L’Equipe. “I am therefore obliged to reinstate him to the workforce and pay the arrears in his salary, which was suspended since last May.”

Valjavec was last week cleared by the Slovenian national anti-doping agency, who accepted his defence that he had been sick when some of the tests were taken and that this had affected his blood values; in addition to that, it was claimed that some of the tests had not been carried out correctly.

The UCI stated last week that it would study the ruling. Once that has been done, it has the option of appealing the outcome to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “Our legal department have to understand what is written in this document and study it,” UCI spokesman Enrico Carpani told AP. “We have to know why they took the decision.”

If the UCI feels that the Slovenian agency has acted in error, it is likely to take the matter further in order to defend the biological passport against future legal challenges. Unlike traditional anti-doping tests, it does not look for a single reading to indicate guilt, but rather follows blood values over time and looks for suspicious trends.

The UCI uses a panel of independent experts to analyse the data and red flag those riders which appear to be questionable.

Valjavec moved to Ag2r La Mondiale prior to the start of the 2008 season and placed tenth in that year’s Tour de France. He finished seventh overall in last year’s Giro d’Italia and raced to the same placing in the Tour de Suisse. He is 33 years of age and is a former winner of the Settimana Lombardia.


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