Spanish cyclist Valverde banned for two years

10:17, June 01, 2010      

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Spanish cyclist Alejandro Valverde was given a two-year ban for doping, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) ruled on Monday.

Valverde was involved in the Operation Puerto doping scandal in 2006, which implicated around 40 riders in a blood-doping ring. The International Cycling Union and World Anti-Doping Agency requested to sanction him and the CAS secured the worldwide ban.

The CAS ordered the 30-year-old Spaniard to be banned retroactively from Jan. 1, 2010 until the 2012 season starts, but allowed him to keep his 2009 Spanish Vuelta victory.

Valverde will be disqualified from all events this season and asked to reimburse his prize money, the UCI said. Those results include victory in the Tour de Romandie and second place in the Paris-Nice stage race.

Valverde and his advisors later issued a statement saying they would contest the verdict.

He already has challenged an earlier Italian ban at the federal court, which can examine Swiss cases for possible abuse of legal process. Federal judges have overturned only two CAS rulings in the Lausanne-based sports court's 26-year history.

Valverde never tested positive for a banned drug, but was linked to the doping ring by DNA evidence seized by police in raids on the Madrid clinic of doctor Eufemiano Fuentes.

Italian authorities already used that evidence to ban Valverde riding there until May 2011, a suspension that was upheld by another CAS ruling that Valverde lost in March.

Valverde becomes the first top Spanish rider to be punished using Operation Puerto evidence, which drove 1997 Tour de France winner Jan Ullrich of Germany into retirement and saw Italy's Ivan Basso serve a two-year ban.

On Sunday, Basso completed his return to the highest level by winning his second Giro d'Italia. The first was clinched in May 2006 just days after the original Puerto raids.



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