Vuelta a España organiser Unipublic's president Ignacio Ayuso expressed his objection to the formal investigation of Alejandro Valverde by the UCI, calling the sudden decision by the sport's governing body a "provocation". After more than a year of rumour and speculation over Valverde's alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto doping scandal, the UCI finally was able to more closely examine the 6,000 page dossier and decided on Wednesday to impose a ban on the Spaniard's participation at the World Championships.
Ayuso called the decision "inopportune", adding that Valverde was allowed to race the Tour de France but is now suddenly implicated in the scandal, "This sounds like a joke, and it seems like a provocation to me. The UCI does not have different information from those of the Guardia Civil. It is indignant that they leave this until two days before the Vuelta," he told EFE.
Ayuso, however, made it clear that cleaning up the sport is of utmost importance to his organisation despite his objections to the case of Valverde. "We have put in economic means to avoid the problem, but the issue of applying the laws and sanctions belongs to others. In this fight we go hand in hand with the UCI, the CSD, the teams and the AMA. We want to be serious against doping," he said.
After a Tour de France riddled with doping scandals, Unipublic is hopeful that the sport will outshine the darker side of the sport once more during the Vuelta. "The cheaters do not have the right to be in the race," Ayuso assured. "We want to see the appearance of cycling in the Vuelta. We will speak of cycling, of sport and not ambushes."
The Spanish Tour starts on Saturday, and the riders are already preparing for the start in Vigo. "At the moment all is well", said the president of Unipublic after word came that all 189 participants have been blood tested and declared fit to start by the UCI.