Following the confirmation of his ban from riding in Italy by the Court of Arbritration for Sport earlier this week, Alejandro Valverde has pledged that he will "fight and do everything that I can" to prove his innocence.
Valverde was speaking at a reception where he was presented with an award as athlete of the year for 2009 in his home region of Murcia. "I'm going to continue with my normal training after speaking with [Caisse d'Epargne team boss] Eusebio Unzué. We are not going to throw in the towel although this is something that's hard to live with," said the Spaniard, who will be 30 next month.
"It is possible that I will be obliged to stop competing for a while, but when I return I am going to keep on winning just as I have done up to now. I'm young and I've still got plenty of drive," said Valverde, who finished runner-up to Alberto Contador in Paris-Nice last week.
He admitted that he had got used to having the fall-out from the Operación Puerto blood doping investigation and the subsequent case at the CAS hanging over him. "I've lived with this for some years now, but in spite of that it does sometimes demoralize you. It's like carrying a 30kg stone around on your back every day, but I consider myself a scapegoat as I've undergone a lot more controls than is normal over the last few years and they've never stopped me from riding," said the Spaniard.
Currently banned from racing in Italy, Valverde faces a worldwide ban following an announcement from the UCI that it intends to take action against him.