Spanish ProTour team Caisse d'Epargne will consider legal action against any new attempts to "throw doubt [through] public opinion based on unfounded speculation" in regard's to its riders involvement in Operación Puerto. The squad's declaration comes after an article in Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper revealed further information on the case in recent weeks. The article claimed a blood bag, allegedly linked to Caisse d'Epargne rider Alejandro Valverde, showed traces of EPO.
The team's statement declared three points "with the greatest respect, but also with the indignation that such unfounded news [was published]". The points, as follows, address the squad's stance on the allegations, and DNA testing:
1 All the riders forming part of our professional staff, whatever their nationality, subscribed in a contractual way the clause by which they commit themselves to provide their DNA. As a consequence it not true to say that among those cyclists, some of them refused to give their DNA.
2 With regard to Alejandro Valverde, if there would be a doubt as for his implication in the Operación Puerto, these last days we received information from all the competent authorities, national, international, legal, administrative and sporting, and one more time, and they are already numerous, we confirm that there is no new fact, indication, proof or investigation, which allows, neither directly or indirectly, to connect him to the Operación Puerto.
3 Lastly, we want to highlight the fact, if what precedes is not sufficient, that Alejandro Valverde, present at this act, declared that he completely agrees so that his DNA is checked with any element of proof existing within the framework of the Operación Puerto, as soon as the Courts of competent jurisdiction would consider it necessary or convenient.
The organisation and its sponsor, French bank Caisse d'Epargne, have been forced to fend off further speculation of a rift between the pair over the latest allegations after an article in L'Equipe alleged the pair had met to discuss the situation. A representative from the bank confirmed a meeting took place, but that it had nothing to do with doping rumours.
The statement concludes "After this declaration, we want to underline the fact that all new attempt to throw doubt [through] public opinion being based on unfounded speculations, not only will be an obvious fact of unfairness with falsification of the truth, but will also give place to the exercise of the legal proceedings corresponding to the defence of the honour and the reputation of our rider, our team and our sponsors."
Cyclingnews' recent coverage of 'Operación Puerto'
April 2, 2009 - Valverde indignant over possible suspension
April 1, 2009 - Valverde: Italy requests two-year suspension
March 13, 2009 - Le Monde newspaper hit with fine over Puerto allegations
March 2, 2009 - WADA president Fahey asks for Puerto evidence
February 24, 2009 - Spanish federation seeks access to Puerto blood bags
February 20, 2009 - CONI considers Valverde case while UCI awaits verdict
February 19, 2009 - Valverde under criminal investigation
February 11, 2009 - Valverde summonsed for Operación Puerto in Italy
February 8, 2009 - Eight charged in Operación Puerto