One group believes there may be questions to be answered, others insist that the rider is innocent and being victimised. However there is a chance for Alejandro Valverde to clear his name and to perhaps ride the Worlds in Stuttgart. Will he take it? Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes reports.
As the world road race championships draw ever closer, the UCI and the Spanish cycling federation continue to be at loggerheads over the participation of Alejandro Valverde in Stuttgart. On Wednesday UCI President Pat McQuaid pointed out that there is an easy way to remove a major question mark hanging over Valverde, if he is indeed innocent of doping.
In an 'all cards on the table' move, the Irishman has called for DNA analysis of one of the blood bags seized under the Operación Puerto investigation, saying that if the Spaniard is in the clear, this would serve to show that bag number 18 - corresponding to the codename 'Valv. Piti' - has no connection to the Caisse d'Epargne rider.
Both the Spanish cycling federation and the country's President of Spain's Superior Council of Sports (CSD) Jaime Lissavetzky have recently backed Valverde, saying that they consider that there is no new evidence to suggest guilt.
However, after reviewing the full 6,000 page dossier on the Operación Puerto case, the UCI sees things otherwise and feels there are enough grounds for further investigation. Valverde previously admitted working with Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes while with Kelme but insisted that he has never doped. There have however been persistent rumours that the Spaniard was indeed involved and that the blood bag may be his. In January the newspaper ABC printed details of the alleged link and in May, La Gazzetta dello Sport went further.
As reported earlier on Cyclingnews, UCI president Pat McQuaid recently sent a letter to Lissavetzky expressing his concern at the turn of affairs. It is known that he is frustrated that the rider has been publicly supported by such a high-profile figure, plus the Spanish federation, rather than being subjected to the requested investigation.
To read the full details on this latest development in the Valverde case, click here.