Spanish sports minister Jamie Lissavetzky addressed the frequently asked question as to why his cycling federation did not take action to suspend Alejandro Valverde when the Italians did. Interviewed in the Spanish daily AS, Lissavetzky said the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) managed to procure evidence to which the Spanish federation did not have access.
Valverde was banned by the Italians after they used DNA evidence to link samples of the rider's blood taken during the 2008 Tour de France to bags of blood from the Operación Puerto investigation. So far, the ban only extends to races on Italian soil, but the UCI is considering a world-wide ban but must review the evidence first.
Lissavetzky said that the CONI received the blood bag from the 2006 raid on the clinic of Eufemiano Fuentes while the judge in charge of the case was on vacation. The Spanish federation has been unable to gain access to the same evidence, and therefore cannot pursue a ban.
Valverde, who recently won the Critérium du Dauphiné Libéré, leads the UCI's world rankings. He will not be able to participate in the Tour de France because it crosses into Italy.
He has taken up the CONI ban with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
The CAS ruled in favour of Valverde in 2008 when German organisers of the World Championships attempted to block him from competing in the event because of his alleged links to Operación Puerto.
Lissavetzky said that the situation is different this time. "We have to wait and see what CAS says," Lissavetzky added.
"We defended Valverde when we had to last year, when they tried to stop him competing in the world championships without any evidence."