A mere 24 hours before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, will decide if Spain's Alejandro Valverde's can start the road race on Sunday, the Spanish judge dealing with Operación Puerto has cleared the Caisse d'Epargne rider of any implication.
Spanish sports paper Marca reported on Tuesday the judge, Antonio Serrano, issued a legal certificate stating that Valverde is not implicated in Puerto. This certificate contradicted the request of the lawyers for the UCI, who asked the Spanish cycling federation to open a case against Valverde, based on the evidence seized in the matter.
Serrano declared that the Spanish rider will be innocent until proven guilty, while the UCI maintained that the fact there is an open investigation will prevent Valverde from participating in Sunday's road race. The certification is expected to have heavy influence on the CAS ruling.
The Spanish Minister of Sport, Jaime Lissavetzky, fully backs Valverde and UCI president Pat McQuaid declared that this was an indication of the stand the Spanish have on doping.
Given Serrano's position in Operación Puerto, his certificate may well carry much more weight with the Swiss Court of Arbitration for Sport than the Spanish Federation's simple refusal to go down the UCI road. According to Marca, the certificate will be presented on Wednesday in Lausanne together with a Spanish police document also confirming that Valverde does not appear in the Puerto documents.
In the power struggle between the UCI and the Spanish Cycling Federation, the UCI have received the support of the World Anti-Doping Agency - rarely an ally of cycling's governing body - in their case against Valverde. At the same time, UCI president Pat McQuaid has said, according to agency reports, that “the biggest problem we have in doping and cycling comes from Spain.” McQuaid argued that Spanish Minister of Sport Jaime Lissavetzky's continued support of Valverde was “indicative” of Spain's position on doping. "It is all very well bringing in laws, but you need to bring action after that.” McQuaid told the Associated Press news agency.