UCI President Pat McQuaid hinted on Saturday that he is opposed to the participation of Spain's Alejandro Valverde in Sunday's elite men's road race World Championship in Mendrisio, Switzerland. But the Irishman added that the governing body is powerless to prevent Valverde from starting the title race while two appeals to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) are pending.
One is the appeal by Valverde against the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI)'s two-year ban on racing in Italy, imposed earlier this year because CONI believes it has evidence linking Valverde to the Operacion Puerto blood doping investigation.
The other is an appeal by the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) against the Spanish authorities' decision not to open proceedings against Valverde for his alleged involvement in the 2006 investigation. McQuaid said that he expects both cases to be resolved before the end of the year, but not before Sunday's road race.
"We make the rules and we have to follow the rules and, for the moment, Alejandro Valverde can race tomorrow," said McQuaid. "If he wins the race, I will give him the medal and the rainbow jersey."
Two years ago, on the eve of the World Championships in Stuttgart, the UCI tried unsuccessfully to prevent Valverde from starting, again for his alleged links to Puerto - specifically, the claim that a bag of blood uncovered in the investigation, labelled "valv.piti" and identified by the number '18', belonged to the Spaniard (who, coincidentally, has been allocated number 18 for Sunday's road race).
"We've always stated that blood bag number 18 belonged to Valverde," said McQuaid. "But I don't want to give my personal opinion." The UCI president added, however, that "You can imagine what my feelings will be if [Valverde] wins."
Asked why the UCI had not followed CONI's lead, and applied a worldwide ban on the Spaniard, who last week claimed his first Grand Tour by winning the Vuelta a Espana, McQuaid said that CONI had not forwarded all the relevant documents from the case. "We don't have all the documents, and we don't know precisely on what basis they decided to ban Valverde, so we're not in a position to make any decision regarding him."
Explaining that the UCI had requested the complete documentation, McQuaid said, "We've been dealing with CONI for a very long time and it's true [that] they're not the easiest body to deal with."
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