By Antonio J. Salmerón
The dispute over the participation of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) in the UCI Road World Championship in Stuttgart, Germany, later this month continued Wednesday with more words in response to the UCI.
"The UCI knowingly opened a file on Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) because they knew it would mean the rider would not be allowed to participate in the World Championships - even though the Spanish Federation would not open a disciplinary action against the rider because it can't find sustainable evidence against him," said Jose Griñán of the Spanish Cycling Federation said Wednesday to Cyclingnews.
However, Griñán pointed out that the rules to ban Valverde from Worlds "are only applicable to this competition," which leaves the door open to him to race other events even if the decision to ban Valverde from Worlds stands.
The UCI had previously asked the Spanish Cycling Federation to open disciplinary proceedings against the 27 year-old rider because it found indications in the Guardia Civil documentation that linked Valverde to the Operación Puerto. RFEC refused, citing no new indications for a possible implication and court ruling not to use Puerto documentation in legal proceedings against riders.
Valverde's participation in the World Championship may be unlikely given its date at the end of the month and remaining legal hurdles to clear the current ban, but Griñán proposed one way to get Valverde on the start line in Stuttgart. "[We could] resort to immediate the judicial or sporting courts, such as the CAS [Court of Aribtration for Sport], although it is evident that all these manoeuvres are consuming time -- just what the UCI wants."
Griñán reiterated the "unconditional support of the RFEC as well as the CSD for Valverde, because, of course, we understand that it [the case] is being compelled by the UCI as well as by the Organizing Committee of Stuttgart."
RFEC President Fulgencio Sánchez indicated a lack of recent response from the UCI. "We have not received answer from the UCI to our letter." He spoke of the ongoing battle as important not just for the rider in question. "Now we do not only defend the reputation of Valverde, but also all Spanish cycling." He added that the "UCI has based [its actions] on suppositions that justify nothing." Sánchez confirmed that the Spanish National team will compete in Stuttgart and called reports to the contrary erroneous.
UCI President Pat McQuaid acknowledged the governing body "had received a letter signed by Valverde, in which he explained that if [the UCI] did not allow [him] to participate in Stuttgart, he would resort to legal actions in order to be able to carry on in his profession."
Valverde's manager Sanchez Sabater said to Cyclingnews that UCI had sent Valverde "a concise, official note that said only that they'd received Valverde's letter of Monday, but would not decide on the matter until further information requested is received from the Spanish Federation."