CAS to examine alleged blood doping by Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde over 2 court cases

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

CAS sets dates to hear 2 Valverde doping cases

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde will face two court hearings over allegations of blood-doping from more than three years ago.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Tuesday it would hear cases involving the reigning Spanish Vuelta champion on Jan. 12-14 and March 18-21.

In the first case, Valverde will challenge a two-year ban imposed by Italy’s Olympic Committee in May that prevents him riding there.

“The athlete contests this decision and requests its annulment,” the CAS said in a statement.

The International Cycling Union and the World Anti-Doping Agency want the ban extended worldwide and have joined that case.

The UCI and WADA have appealed to CAS in the second case because the Spanish cycling federation refused to discipline the 29-year-old Valverde.

The complex cases center on Valverde’s alleged doping connections to a Madrid clinic raided in the long-running Operation Puerto probe.

The Italian Olympic body, CONI, said a blood sample taken from Valverde when the 2008 Tour de France crossed into Italy matched DNA from blood bags seized during a raid in May 2006.

Valverde said CONI has no right to sanction him and that it defied a Spanish judge’s order that evidence obtained in Spain cannot be used against him in Italy.

The UCI has been frustrated in its attempts to sanction Valverde because the Spanish federation did not collect evidence to open a case against him.

The governing body hoped it could act after CAS ruled on Valverde’s appeal against CONI. However, a scheduled hearing last month was delayed when CONI requested that the UCI and WADA join its defense.

“Their participation was admitted by the CAS, which lead to several deadlines having to be refixed and to the postponement of the hearing,” the court said.

CAS said the second case requires a minimum of three consecutive days to be heard. The court aims to return verdicts within several weeks.

Valverde has been free to ride everywhere except Italy since the May 11 ban and has delivered some of the best results of his career.

He won his first grand tour, the Vuelta, in September after taking victories in three other stage races: the Tour of Catalonia, France’s Dauphine Libere and the Tour of Burgos in Spain.

Valverde has won three stages at the Tour de France, including the opening stage in 2008, briefly claiming the yellow jersey as race leader.

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