Alejandro Valverde has denied implicating a former Kelme teammate in the Spanish doping investigation Operación Puerto, during the course of his appeal against a two-year ban from racing in Italy.
Valverde's appeal against the ban, enforced by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), was last week rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). Spanish media sources alleged that Valverde's legal team had attempted to attribute the blood bag linked to their client, marked '18 Valve. Piti', to another rider who remains in the professional peloton. The two were teammates in 2002 with Kelme-Costa Blanca.
"Alejandro Valverde has never accused any rider forming part of the peloton and, as a consequence, what [has been] written in relation to that point is totally wrong," read a statement released by representatives of Valverde on Sunday.
"Mr. Valverde’s lawyers limited themselves exclusively to defend the rider’s interests and they never made such accusations against the cyclist mentioned in the [Spanish] newspapers."
The statement acknowledged that a witness called during the CAS hearing had declared that the bag marked '18' could be attributed to another rider, but refuted any suggestion that one had been specifically named during the proceedings.
"A witness called to declare in the hearing that took place in front of the CAS let it be known that among the archives of the Operacion Puerto there was a file with number '18' that could correspond to a cycling rider which is not Mr. Valverde."
The CAS's decision to uphold the CONI ban means Valverde will continue to be excluded from competition in Italy until May 2011. However, the International Cycling Union (UCI) has already indicated that it will look to have CONI's ban extended worldwide.
Valverde's last race in Italy was the 2008 World Championship road race in Varese, in which he was allowed to compete after a successful appeal against the UCI's attempts to exclude him from the event.