The Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed Alejandro Valverde's appeal against his two-year in Italy, confirming he cannot ride in Italy until May 10, 2011. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has stated that it will now pursue extending the ban worldwide.
CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee, banned Valverde for two years on May 11, 2009 after establishing that a blood sample obtained during the 2008 Tour de France contained the same DNA as a bag of blood seized by Spanish police during the Operación Puerto investigation (see timeline below).
The Italians had obtained a sample of the blood evidence as part of a police investigation in December, 2008. According to analysis performed in a Barcelona laboratory as part of the initial Spanish investigation, the bag of blood contained EPO and so the CONI banned Valverde for two years.
The Spaniard appealed against the ban, claiming the CONI had no legal right to use the evidence. However the CAS dismissed his claims, saying: "The evidence analysed by the judicial authorities and used in the CONI proceedings was not only admissible but also relevant and could reasonably lead to the outcome determined by the CONI Anti-Doping Tribunal."
The CAS also ruled that the two-year ban was "proportionate to the violation of the CONI regulations by Alejandro Valverde."
Following the CAS decision, it will now be up to the UCI to decide on extending Valverde's two-year ban worldwide. The UCI stated its intent to do just that.
The UCI welcomed the decision, stating that it confirmed what the UCI had determined after a "conducting a thorough review of the documents relating to the Puerto case, and of Alejandro Valverde’s involvement in it."
"Consequently, after careful study of the grounds of the CAS decision, the UCI expresses its determination to take the necessary measures to secure a suspension that is applicable internationally," a press release stated.
On Thursday another CAS hearing related to Operación Puerto begins, as the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) take on the Spanish Cycling Federation for their refusal to sanction Valverde.
This appeal, which dates from the end of 2007, was brought against the Spanish federation who criticized the UCI for failing to open disciplinary proceedings against Valverde.