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Photo ©: Swift

Cycling News Flash, May 11, 2009

Edited by Sue George

Italian tribunal delivers Valverde two-year suspension

By Gregor Brown

Italian tribunal delivers Alejandro Valverde two-year suspension
Photo ©: ISPA
(Click for larger image)

Alejandro Valverde received a two-year suspension from the Italian anti-doping tribunal today in Rome for his connections to the 2006 doping investigation Operación Puerto. The decision prohibits the Spaniard, 29, from racing in Italy and the Tour de France, which passes through the country this year.

The tribunal acted on information gathered by Italian Olympic Committee's (CONI) head prosecutor, Ettore Torri. Torri compared DNA samples taken during last year's Tour de France – from the rest day in Italy on July 21 – to blood seized in Spain's Operación Puerto investigation.

Valverde, with Italian lawyer Frederico Cecconi, met the Italian Olympic Committee on February 19. It recommended a two-year suspension April 1.

Lawyers Cecconi and José Rodriguez represented Valverde, who stayed home for today's proceedings. World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), International Cycling Union (UCI) and Spanish Cycling Federation (RFEC) representatives were also present.

Valverde threatened legal action against Torri last Wednesday. He said that Torri "disobeyed Spanish legal authorities" and "falsified documents". The Italian Olympic Committee defended Torri's work: "the activities of the investigation have been conducted with absolute regularity," it said in a press release.

In May 2006, Spanish Guardia Civil had seized coded blood bags during its raid on the offices of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. (Read EPO blood bags attributed to code names.)

Team Caisse d'Epargne's Valverde continued to race despite past allegations. This year he won two stages in the Castilla y León and the Klasika Primavera. His last race was the Tour de Romandie, April 28 to May 3.

He is a winner of two editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the 2006 Flèche Wallonne and the International Cycling Union's (UCI) ProTour classification in 2006 and 2008.

Valverde will likely appeal today's ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

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