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CAS confirms Valverde's Italian ban

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) looks relaxed at the start

Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne) looks relaxed at the start (Image credit: Franklin Tello)

The Court for Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has dismissed Alejandro Valverde's appeal against his two-year in Italy, confirming he cannot ride in Italy until May 10, 2011. The International Cycling Union (UCI) has stated that it will now pursue extending the ban worldwide.

CONI, the Italian Olympic Committee, banned Valverde for two years on May 11, 2009 after establishing that a blood sample obtained during the 2008 Tour de France contained the same DNA as a bag of blood seized by Spanish police during the Operación Puerto investigation (see timeline below).

The Italians had obtained a sample of the blood evidence as part of a police investigation in December, 2008. According to analysis performed in a Barcelona laboratory as part of the initial Spanish investigation, the bag of blood contained EPO and so the CONI banned Valverde for two years.

The Spaniard appealed against the ban, claiming the CONI had no legal right to use the evidence. However the CAS dismissed his claims, saying: "The evidence analysed by the judicial authorities and used in the CONI proceedings was not only admissible but also relevant and could reasonably lead to the outcome determined by the CONI Anti-Doping Tribunal."

The CAS also ruled that the two-year ban was "proportionate to the violation of the CONI regulations by Alejandro Valverde."

Following the CAS decision, it will now be up to the UCI to decide on extending Valverde's two-year ban worldwide. The UCI stated its intent to do just that.

The UCI welcomed the decision, stating that it confirmed what the UCI had determined after a "conducting a thorough review of the documents relating to the Puerto case, and of Alejandro Valverde’s involvement in it."

On Thursday another CAS hearing related to Operación Puerto begins, as the UCI and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) take on the Spanish Cycling Federation for their refusal to sanction Valverde.

This appeal, which dates from the end of 2007, was brought against the Spanish federation who criticized the UCI for failing to open disciplinary proceedings against Valverde.

Alejandro Valverde and Operación Puerto

May 22, 2006 – Liberty Seguros principal Manolo Saiz and Kelme team doctor Eufemiano Fuentes are arrested after investigation by Spanish Civil Guard. Doping scandal known as Operación Puerto begins.

June 26, 2006 – Spanish media uncover details of Operación Puerto, including 58 code names believed to be linked to professional riders.

June 30, 2006 – Jan Ullrich and Ivan Basso are withdrawn from the Tour de France on the eve of the race.

July 1, 2006 – Spanish media link riders' pet's names to blood bags seized in initial Operación. A bag labelled 'Piti' – the name of Alejandro Valverde's dog – is identified.

September 21, 2006 – Royal Spanich Cycling Federation (RFEC) puts support behind Alejandro Valverde.

November 25, 2006 – EPO detected in blood seized during Operación Puerto.

March 13, 2007 – Spanish judicial system dismisses Operación Puerto.

May 7, 2007 – Italian newspaper La Gazzetta Dello Sport reports that EPO is detected in a blood bag that can allegedly linked to Valverde.

May 15, 2007 – World anti-doping Agency (WADA) granted access to Operación Puerto files

August 30, 2007 – International Cycling Union (UCI) bans Valverde from the 2007 World road Championships.

September, 2007 – Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) overturns UCI's Worlds ban on Valverde. Spaniard competes and finishes in 57th, 2:47 behind winner Paolo Bettini.

February 19, 2009 – Valverde fronts CONI hearing in Rome, Italy. Blood samples taken by CONI during 2008 Tour de France allegedly provide DNA match to blood seized in Operación Puerto.

May 11, 2009 – CONI issues two-year ban against Valverde racing in Italy.

June 19, 2009 – Valverde launches appeal against CONI ban with CAS on the basis that CONI has no jurisdiction in Operación Puerto.

June 23, 2009 – Caisse d'Epargne withdraw Valverde from their Tour de France team, after Amaury Sports Organisation (ASO) threatens to ban team from event.

January 13, 2010 – CAS rejects UCI and WADA request to extend CONI ban, but upholds CONI's authority to ban Valverde from racing in Italy.

March 16, 2010 – CAS upholds CONI's two-year ban against Valverde racing in Italy.

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Stephen is the most experienced member of the Cyclingnews team, having reported on professional cycling since 1994. He has held the position of European editor since 2012 and previously worked for Reuters, Shift Active Media, and Cycling Weekly, among other publications.