Claims of Slovenian rider "totally unfounded"
Two days after Tadej Valjavec claimed his innocence in his biological passport case revealed on Monday, the doctor of his AG2R La Mondiale team has denied the Slovenian's claims that his blood values were altered because of an illness.
On his personal website, Valjavec had claimed he had a certificate regarding his illness and subsequent treatment, but, "a doctor on our team did not do his work. The certificate was not forwarded to the International Cycling Union, which then began proceedings against me."
AG2R head team doctor Eric Bouvat firmly countered this on Thursday morning, telling Cyclingnews, "Valjavec had better find other explanations for the anomalies in his blood profile. The certificate he talks about does exist, but it was never up to me to forward it to the UCI in the first place. And even if I had done it, it would not have changed anything in the conclusions of the biological passport expert panel."
Bouvat went on to explain the timeline of events. "Valjavec had to abandon last year's Tour of California because of digestive problems. On his return home, he was examined by a Slovenian doctor who diagnosed his pathology. Valjavec then sent me the certificate of this doctor for my information."
But contrary to what Valjavec alleged - that Bouvat should have sent this certificate to the UCI - the doctor said that "the UCI does not keep medical records of the riders. We only have to send them the certificates in case the riders have a therapeutic use exemption (TUE) to take a forbidden substance, which was not the case."
After this, Valjavec was subject to repeated blood controls, and the abnormal blood profile which resulted in the expert panel's final conclusions only showed several weeks afterwards, Bouvat said.
When Valjavec was notified of the suspected blood manipulation earlier this year, the rider was given the possibility to explain his values to the independent expert panel that examines the biological passport readings. "He then asked me if I still had the certificate, and I sent him a copy of it which he in turn sent to the UCI," continued Bouvat.
"But the conclusions of the expert panel are clear: the pathology he had in early 2009 cannot, in any way, explain his abnormal blood values, which is why the UCI has now rightfully requested the opening of disciplinary proceedings against him. He'd better find another explanation for his abnormal profile instead of spreading this story, which is totally unfounded."
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