Posted by Editoress on 05/31/10
The long process of appeal over the suspension of Spanish pro Alejandro Valverde has finally concluded with a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) that he is to be suspended for two years, beginning January 1, 2010. This means that Valverde will be stripped of win in the Tour of Romandie, and his second place in Paris-Nice. He was also leading the UCI world rankings, and will lose that standing.
The saga began with Operacion Puerto, back in 2004, when Spanish authorities found evidence that numerous riders were involved in a blood doping program with Dr Eufemiano Fuentes. Spanish authorities eventually dropped the investigation, despite the protests of the UCI, WADA and other national doping authorities, such as CONI in Italy.
While Valverde never tested positive for banned substances, Italian authorities believed that they linked some of the stored blood products to Valverde, and both the UCI and WADA argued that he should be suspended, given the weight of evidence. The CAS has agreed to this two year suspension, but said that Valverde can keep any victories up to December 31, 2009, including victories in the Dauphiné Libéré and Clasica San Sebastian.
The text of the UCI statement:
The International Cycling Union (UCI) is satisfied by the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on the Alejandro Valverde case. Mr Valverde has been suspended from all competition for two years commencing 1 January 2010.
By deciding to suspend the Spanish rider, the CAS agreed with the UCI, which had appealed in 2007 together with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the refusal of the Spanish Cycling Federation to open disciplinary proceedings against Mr Valverde for his involvement in Operation Puerto.
The UCI and cycling as a whole have certainly suffered greatly from this affair. The damage caused by Mr Valverde's behaviour since the UCI became convinced of his guilt cannot be fully compensated for by this regulatory sanction. Nevertheless, the UCI is now relieved and contented with CAS's decision as it resolves a situation that had become untenable.
Following the CAS's decision, Mr Valverde will not be allowed to participate in any cycling events before 31 December 2011. Furthermore, he has been disqualified from all competitions in which he has competed since the beginning of the year and all points allocated to him have been removed. Mr Valverde must also return all prizes received.
The UCI World Ranking has been modified accordingly.
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