Valverde prepares for legal battle in Italy

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde is readying himself for a legal battle with the Italian Olympic...

Spaniard Alejandro Valverde is readying himself for a legal battle with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in Rome in connection to Operación Puerto. His newly appointed lawyer, Frederico Cecconi, requested a postponement of the hearing.

"I have another trial that day and it is impossible to be in Rome tomorrow. My request is well documented and I have already made contact by telephone with CONI to let them know the problem," Cecconi told Spanish newspaper AS.

The Italian Olympic Committee reportedly has linked DNA samples taken from last year's Tour de France – from the rest day in Italy, July 21 – to blood seized in the Operación Puerto investigation. In May 2006, Spain's Guardia Civil collected coded blood bags during its raid on the offices of Doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. (Read EPO blood bags attributed to code names.)

Ettore Torri, head anti-doping prosecutor of the Italian Olympic Committee, summonsed the Spanish Champion last week to appear in Rome yesterday for possible ties to the 2006 doping investigation. At the request of Valverde, it re-scheduled the hearing for Wednesday at 12:00.

Following Cecconi's request, the hearing will now take place Thursday at 17:00.

"There are many important elements to the defence of Valverde. We are talking about a Spanish cyclist tried by an Italian and for an alleged crime which, if true, it seems clear that it was not committed in Italy."

Documents from Madrid's Court 31 link Valverde to confiscated blood via codes Valv, Piti and 18. Despite attempts in the past years, authorities have not been able to prove links or stop Valverde from racing.

Valverde began his 2009 season last week in the Challenge Mallorca.

Cecconi is the same Italian lawyer who represented cyclist Danilo Di Luca in the Oil for Drugs investigation in 2007. His legal offices are in Milan.

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