Valverde Under Investigation
During the last 10 days, Spanish and Italian authorities have wrangled over the status of Alejandro Valverde (Caisse d'Epargne). On February 11, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) summoned Valverde, who won two stages of the 2008 Tour de France, to a hearing in Rome on February 16 at noon. CONI has linked DNA samples taken during last year's Tour de France to blood samples seized during the Operation Puerto investigation. In May 2006, Spain's Civil Guard seized the samples during a raid on Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes's office.
On the same day, Valverde issued a press release. It said in part, "I reiterate my complete predisposition to appear before any organization which requests my presence to collaborate with an aim of clearing up everything connected to doping." In addition, Valverde said that he was surprised and angered by "what was published in the Italian media, with regard to the reasons for which, according to what appears, CONI requests my appearance." The Caisse d'Epargne rider then added that he had no abnormal values resulting from his antidoping control after the Prato Nevoso stage of the 2008 Tour de France, that he does not know what data is being compared, and that such a comparison of his Tour de France and Operation Puerto samples is unacceptable. The press release ended by saying that he would cooperate with all competent authorities in the fight against doping but that further insinuations that harmed his image or that of his team or its sponsors would result in legal action.
The following day, Valverde in an exclusive statement to Roadcycling.com said that the investigation "...will not affect my season or my training plans....As for my program, we will change nothing. The Giro has never been in my program, which is mostly a Spanish and French one, which is normal considering that our sponsor Caisse d'Epargne is a French one."
The hearing was delayed by the Spanish contention that blood samples seized in Operation Puerto could not be used in any country other than Spain, but it took place this past Thursday. Valverde was informed that he was under criminal investigation. Antidoping prosecutor Ettore Torri said that Valverde was uncooperative without stating it directly when he answered the question of whether Valverde would be summoned again by declaring, "If one refuses to answer there's no point in returning." Valverde issued a statement in which he said that he had never doped, that his legal representatives requested the data that CONI had used, and that he would be exonerated when the facts came out. Valverde ended by saying..."I will keep on training hard every day so that I can achieve the sporting goals which are mine this year."
In addition to the Italian investigation, Valverde is also being investigated by the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) through the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). This case was opened after Spanish authorities stopped investigating the Puerto affair.
Is Alejandro Valverde the victim of an innocent mistake, or is he a doper? Check in at www.roadcycling.com and find out!