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UCI President denies telling Castaño that Valverde is innocent
UCI President Pat McQuaid has contradicted statements made by Spanish cycling federation (RFEC) president Juan Carlos Castaño, in relation to the CAS hearing concerning Alejandro Valverde.
Speaking to Punto Radio Murcia, Castaño claimed that McQuaid told him privately that the UCI "had no reason to doubt Valverde".
Castaño gave his own backing of the rider, saying that he is "flawless as an athlete and a person", and speaking about an injustice against Valvderde. "There is a persecution, and it is absolutely illogical. What has happened is that there are organizations that want to use twisted routes just to reach their goals, which is what is happening with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI)." Castaño added that he expected Valverde to be cleared by CAS.
Contacted by Cyclingnews this afternoon, McQuaid rejected the claims that he had said the rider was innocent. "I don't remember saying anything like that to the president of the Spanish federation," he said, sounding surprised. "I have had no discussion with the president of the Spanish federation about Valverde.
"The UCI has always stated that we felt that Valverde was involved in Operacion Puerto."
The UCI was one of three major bodies which gave evidence against Valverde in the recent Court of Arbitration for Sport hearing, which took place from January 12 - 14. It joined WADA and CONI in fighting the Vuelta a España winner's appeal against his two-year ban in Italy.
CAS had said that a decision will be announced in March. McQuaid has said that the UCI will decide its next course of action then.
"We have had no feedback from CAS. We are still waiting on the decision, and once we get it, we will study the reasoning of the president of the panel to decide what action - if any - we can take."
Whatever the outcome, CAS will also take further statements in a second hearing, due to be held March 18-21. This is an appeal lodged by the UCI and WADA against the RFEC's refusal to open disciplinary proceedings against the rider.