Spanish champion Alejandro Valverde will not compete in the Tour de France his Caisse d'Epargne team announced on Tuesday, citing the Spaniard's ban by the National Anti-doping Tribunal of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) in Italy.
CONI imposed a two-year sanction on Valverde on May 11 in response to his alleged involvement in the Operación Puerto affair and the fact that samples taken from him after stage 14 of last year's Tour de France matched one of those found in the clinic of disgraced Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes. CONI said that Valverde had violated UCI anti-doping regulations.
Valverde appealed his suspension to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), but his appeal will not be heard prior to the start of the Tour de France on July 4.
"Under these circumstances and, knowing that a stage of the race will pass through Italian territory, we are obliged to announce that Alejandro Valverde will not take the start of the 2009 Tour," Caisse d'Epargne said.
The 16th stage of the Tour de France goes from Martigny, Switzerland, to Bourg-Saint-Maurice, France, and passes briefly through Italy.