Lawyers of 2006 ProTour winner Alejandro Valverde have been asked by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to respond Monday to a case against him presented by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which is seeking to sanction the Spaniard.
WADA, with full support of the UCI, has requested a two-year suspension of Valverde from competition as confirmed by Eugenio Bermúdez, secretary of the Real Federación Española de Ciclismo to the Spanish paper AS.
Valverde's support team consists of the same group who defended his participation in the UCI World Cycling Road Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. "What WADA and the UCI are trying to obtain is what they did not obtain in September, although they are trying another legal way. It is as if they can't arrive by one road, they are trying another. The insistence of the UCI is clear," said Bermúdez to AS.
Valverde's team will argue that he is not currently sanctioned and continues to race with the approval of the Spanish Superior Council of Sports. His lawyers will argue a lack of new tests or evidence supporting a case against Valverde and that "no international federation can go against the decisions of the national organization."
Should the court case be opened, it could last for months.
Hinting at the case against Valverde, WADA's President Dick Pound had said at a press conference Thursday according to the AFP, "There is still the evidence coming from the documentation that is available to the UCI that would indicate this particular cyclist might have been involved in Operación Puerto. He said the names of dogs were associated with blood bags and said, "...funnily enough, some of the dogs were associated with cyclists."
"The problem (WADA has) with Operación Puerto is that the judge has said that none of the evidence which is available to all the parties, including us and the UCI, can be used for sports sanctions purposes until the criminal case is entirely finished. But we are sitting up there with a whole bunch of information that we know exists but you are prevented from using it," complained Pound.
Sunday, Valverde participated in a Criterium in Murcia with other 27 other Spanish cycling stars. After winning a race with a rally car, he was asked to comment on pending allegations.
"I have nothing to say with respect to attacks by the UCI because the CAS gave me a reason," said Valverde, referring to the case where he defended successfully his selection to the Spanish road team for Worlds. "I want to be calm for planning my assault on the Tour, and I'll try my fortunes in Beijing. About the Vuelta a España, I have no more to say because we still do not know the route."
Antonio J. Salmerón contributing