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Page last updated at 22:46 GMT, Monday, 11 May 2009 23:46 UK

Valverde may miss Tour after ban

Alejandro Valverde
Valverde won the opening stage of the 2008 Tour de France

Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde has been banned from racing in Italy for two years by the anti-doping panel of the Italian Olympic Committee (Coni).

The ban could rule him out of the Tour de France, which passes through Italy.

Coni alleged DNA evidence and documents showed Valverde was involved in the Operation Puerto blood doping case.

Valverde, 28, was not in Rome for the tribunal but has denied the allegations and plans to appeal, claiming Coni cannot rule on a Spanish rider.

The Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) have also insisted Coni had no right to rule on a Spaniard.

"Given the seriousness of the situation, the president of the RFEC, Juan Carlos Castano, will seek an immediate meeting with the president of Cycling's governing body (UCI) Pat McQuaid," said a statement on the federation's website.

606: DEBATE

The tribunal claimed blood samples given by Valverde when last year's Tour entered Italy matched DNA from code-named bags of blood discovered in the Spanish Puerto investigation.

Spanish officials launched the operation in 2006 after raids at addresses in Madrid and Zaragoza uncovered doping paraphernalia.

Valverde said in a statement that an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) had already been launched.

And the rider's team, Caisse d'Epargne, offered its full support to Valverde's appeal and said the ruling was "unjust, obsolete and made by an obviously incompetent organisation".

A statement added: "The minimal guarantees of defence that any sportsman must have were not respected."

The 16th stage of this year's Tour passes through Italy's Val D'Aosta region on 21 July and any ban preventing Valverde racing in Italy would put his participation in serious doubt.

The team have said they will seek damages against Coni if Valverde's appeal is successful.

"Knowing that this decision can determine the fact that our rider cannot participate in the next Tour de France, given that its course will go through Italian territory, we let it be known that if Alejandro Valverde's recourse succeeds, we will take action for compensation," claimed a team statement.

Valverde insisted his defence case has already been presented in writing, protesting his innocence and "highlighting the terrible irregularities made in these proceedings".

The Spaniard, who topped the world rankings last year, took part in the 2007 World Championships despite world governing body the International Cycling Union (UCI) trying to prevent his participation because of his links to the Puerto affair.



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see also
Valverde put under investigation
19 Feb 09 |  Cycling
Feillu takes yellow from Valverde
07 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Valverde triumphs in Tour opener
05 Jul 08 |  Cycling
Valverde claims Dauphine Libere
15 Jun 08 |  Cycling
Valverde scoops victory in Liege
27 Apr 08 |  Cycling
Valverde cleared for World Champs
26 Sep 07 |  Cycling
Riders escape doping proceedings
27 Oct 06 |  Cycling
Other sports linked to drug probe
05 Jul 06 |  Sport Homepage
Cycling on the BBC
18 Feb 11 |  Cycling


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