Italy defends action on Valverde

The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) rejected the Spanish judge's objections to its case against Alejandro Valverde, and intends to proceed with its hearing with the Spanish rider on Thursday.

CONI called Valverde to be questioned after it linked samples taken during the 2008 Tour de France to blood evidence obtained from the Operación Puerto case. The Spanish judge in charge of the case, Antonio Serrano, argued that the Italians had no jurisdiction to do so, but the Italian anti-doping prosecutors called his statement "groundless".

CONI issued a statement that said the evidence "have been obtained in full compliance with existing laws."

Valverde, who rides for the Caisse d'Epargne squad, has repeatedly denied any involvement with the clinic which was raided in 2006, turning up hundreds of bags of stored blood from athletes as well as doping products. The so-called Operación Puerto case has been stalled in the Spanish courts ever since.

The Italians have been successful in sanctioning two riders, Ivan Basso and Michele Scarponi, in connection with the case.

CONI also stated that it had evidence which was independent of that obtained from the Spanish court, and that this makes it "possible to carry out a disciplinary action against Alejandro Valverde for an anti-doping violation."

Valverde's lawyer requested that the hearing be rescheduled. It was due to occur Wednesday, but has now been moved to Thursday, February 19 at 5PM.

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