By Gregor Brown
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) requested a two-year suspension on Wednesday in Rome for Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde. CONI reportedly used DNA evidence to connect the 28-year-old Caisse d'Epargne rider to the Operación Puerto investigation.
Head anti-doping prosecutor Ettore Torri linked DNA samples taken during last year's Tour de France – from the rest day in Italy on July 21 – to blood seized in the Operación Puerto investigation. In May 2006, Spanish Guardia Civil had seized coded blood bags during its raid on the offices of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. (Read EPO blood bags attributed to code names.)
CONI sent its recommended suspension to the Italian anti-doping tribunal. The tribunal should make its ruling in the coming weeks. Valverde will likely appeal any ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
Valverde has raced since 2006 despite reported links. Last week, he won two stages in the Castilla y León stage race and finished ninth overall.
He is a winner of two editions of Liège-Bastogne-Liège, the 2006 Flèche Wallonne and the International Cycling Union's (UCI) ProTour classification in 2006 and 2008.
Participate in a discussion on the Cyclingnews Forum about Valverde and Operación Puerto.
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