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Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) speaks to the media.
Puerto case drags on for Vuelta winner
Slated to take place on November 16th, Alejandro Valverde’s appeal hearing against CONI will now not be heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport until later this year. The rider’s Caisse d’Epargne team confirmed the delay to Cyclingnews on Friday.
In May, the Vuelta a España winner was served with a two-year ban by CONI for his part in the Operación Puerto affair. Using DNA evidence, it claimed that it had connected the rider to blood bags found three years earlier during the search of the Madrid clinic of Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.
This CONI ban applied only to races held on Italian soil but, as the Tour de France passed through the country during this year’s race, it meant that the Caisse d’Epargne team left the rider at home in July.
Valverde is seeking to overturn the ban on the grounds that CONI does not have jurisdiction over him. The Operación Puerto judicial trial continues to drag on and the Spanish cycling federation RFEC has refused to sanction the rider. This decision has prompted the UCI and WADA to lodge a separate petition with CAS.
Valverde’s CONI appeal was originally thought likely to be held in October, but it was then deferred to the mid-November date. CAS has not yet indicated the reason for this or when the new appeal will be held.
If Valverde is successful in fighting the CONI decision, it will simply mean that he can again race in Italy. The second UCI/WADA appeal is the one which will determine whether or not he will face a widespread ban over his links to the Puerto investigation.
CAS has indicated to Cyclingnews that the outcome of the first appeal will not necessarily affect the second. In other words, even if Valverde is successful in overturning the CONI ban, he could still face a two year global suspension.
The ongoing delays mean that it could be early next year before a final ruling is given.
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